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42 2168 


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People of Israel 





Vol. III. 



Presswork by The University Press, 
Cambridge, U. S. A. 





Book V. 


Hezekiah .«•• 1 

Policy and Administration 8 

Definite Constitution op Iahvetsm ...... 17 

The Anavim • 31 

Fusion op the Two Narratives op Sacred History • • 41 

Literature in the Reign of Hezekiah ... .57 


Invasion of Sennacherib 79 


The Last Years of Hezekiah.— Triumph of the Theocratic 

Democracy 94 

Reaction against the Anavim.— Manasseh and Amon . , 103 


The Revolutions in Asia during the Seventh Century 

b.c.— Nahum .114 


Recrudescence of Anavite Prophetism.— Sophonius, Jere- 
miah 120 


Jeremiah and the Civil Power 137 

The Reforms of Josiah . 142 

Centralisation of Judaism at Jerusalem . . • . 154 



The New Thora 168 


First Appearance op Socialism 185 

Literary Work about the Time op Josiah .... 196 

Revolutions in the East.— Death of Josiah .... 210 

Jehoiakim.— The Pietists in Disgrace 221 

Nebuchadnezzar and Jeremiah.— The Scourgfs op God . 232 

The First Captivity 243 

The Reign op Zedekiah 256 

Pious Dreams . . 274 

Destruction op Jerusalem. — The Second Transportation . 282 

The Last Convulsions op Judah 299 


Book VI. 


The First Years of Exile .... 309 

Consolations of the People ... • 321 

Plans of Restoration.— Ezekiel 333 

Sacerdotal and Levitical Thora 341 

Literary Work during the Captivity 361 

Approach of the Siege of Babylon 368 

Capture of Babylon • . • 373 

Cyrus and the Ach^emenid^e 379 


The Great Anonymous Prophet 390 

The New Jerusalem 398 

Iahveh, the Universal God 406 

Doubts and Hesitations . , . 414 

The Return 423 


This volume will show how the work of the 
monotheistic prophets acquired such solidity that 
the terrible blow which Nebuchadnezzar dealt to 
Jerusalem failed to destroy it. By a miracle of 
faith and hope unparalleled in history, the Iahveists 
of the prophetic reformation disseminated along 
the banks of the Euphrates will bring about the 
return to Judea, the re-establishment of holy wor- 
ship, the rebuilding of Jerusalem. I hope that I 
may be given the strength to delineate, in a fourth 
volume, the train of Jewish ideas up to the appear- 
ance of Christianity, and thus to complete the cycle 
of religious history which I have taken as my task. 
It is a hope which I scarcely ventured to nourish a 
few years ago. I now think that I may without 
presumption look forward to the completing of the 
work which has been the principal aim of my life. 
I have been blamed for having, in the previous 


volume, drawn too many comparisons between the 
ancient events which. I am relating and movements 
of the present day. It is not my fault if, in the 
present volume, I have again been led to offend, in 
this respect, the susceptibility of rhetoricians. The 
history of ancient Judaism is the most striking 
instance of the opposition of political and social 
questions. The thinkers of Israel were the first to 
revolt against the injustice of the world, to refuse 
their submission to the inequalities, the abuses, and 
the privileges without which there can neither be 
an army nor a strong society. They compromised 
the existence of their petty nationality, but they 
founded the religious edifice which, under the name 
of Judaism, Christianity, or Islamism, has served 
as a refuge for humanity down to the present day. 
Here we have a lesson upon which modern nations 
cannot reflect too much. The nations which aban- 
don themselves to social questions will perish, but, 
if the future belongs to such questions, it will be a 
grand thing to have died for the cause which is 
destined to triumph. All the plain, sensible people 
of Jerusalem, about the year 500 b.c., were furious 
with the prophets, who rendered all military or 
diplomatic action impossible. What a pity, never- 
theless, it would have been if these sublime madmen 

PREFACE. xiii 

had been arrested ! Jerusalem, perhaps, would 
have remained for a little longer the capital of an 
insignificant kingdom; but she would not be the 
religious capital of humanity. 

As regards the current dates at the head of these 
pages, the reader must be referred to the remarks 
at the close of the Preface to Vol. II. I am keep- 
ing for the fourth volume a map of Palestine and a 
plan of Jerusalem, brought down to the most recent 
data of science ; and as regards the oriental typo- 
graphy of this and of the two preceding volumes, 
I have to thank the Director of the National Print- 
ing Press for the loan of the type required for a 
satisfactory execution of the work. 







The destruction of Samaria led, in accordance with 
an ordinary law of history, to the exaltation of 
Jerusalem, its rival. The religious and literary 
work which had been wrought by the two divided 
halves of Jacob will in future be accomplished by 
Judah alone. Now Judah was Jerusalem. The 
religion of Israel had not, up to that date, any dis- 
tinct name, but in the form which the genius of 
Jerusalem is about to give it, it will be known as 
Judaism. Thus concentrated, the force of the reli- 
gious movement kindled by the prophets acquired 
a fresh degree of intensity. The small city of 
David became a focus of creation, such as there has 
never before been of the religious kind. Moral 



and social problems were started with an origin- 
ality beyond compare. The earliest organised 
religion is in process of formation; Christianity, 
Islamism, Protestantism, and, mutatis mutandis, 
modern Socialism will spring from it. 

Iahveism, Elohism, and the worships connected 
with them, even the disciplines which for centuries 
constituted Prophetism, were not, as yet, religions 
having a principle of identity which would ensure 
their duration. They were vigorous germs from 
which was to spring the stem of the religious tree 
of humanity ; but they were only germs of the 
reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah. The books which 
were the outcome of these reforms, the terrible 
fanaticism of Jeremiah, the captivity, the return, 
were the knot which bound all that into a bundle 
which it would henceforth be impossible to break. 
The kingdom of Israel having once disappeared, 
its religion disappeared with it ; the kingdom of 
Judah will disappear, but its religion will survive 
it. Judaism, from being a local religion, will be- 
come a religion not tied down to any par- 
ticular country, susceptible of being practised in 
all countries and embraced by the most divergent 

Two great men, Hezekiah and Isaiah, are at the 
bottom of this extraordinary movement, which 
decided the fate of humanity, though circumstances 
aided very much. The eleven years over which the 
siege of Samaria lasted and those which followed 


were a time of ardent fever for Jerusalem. Every 
moment, men were expecting that the scourge 
which was crushing Bphraim would be diverted 
upon Judsea. A sort of patriotism prevented Isaiah 
and Micah from uttering too loud shouts of 
triumph at the capture of Samaria ; but, in reality, 
the victory of Iahveism was complete, the predic- 
tions of the prophets of Jerusalem were realised, 
the kingdom of Bphraim had fallen a victim to its 
infidelity towards Iahveh. Alone of the cities in 
Syria, Jerusalem had been spared. What could be 
clearer ? If it were admitted that the Assyrians 
were the scourge with which Iahveh chastised the 
peoples, this immunity of Jerusalem could only be 
the effect of a divine protection. A beautiful surate 
in Isaiah,* which appears to relate to this period, 
contains the complete theory of Providence as 
understood by the prophets, a theory which has 
remained the universal philosophy of history down 
to Bossuet's day. 

God governs the world by punishment. In order 
to punish, He has need of instruments ; but these 
instruments do not know the hand which makes 
use of them ; they imagine that they are themselves 
doing that which God causes them to do. " It is 
by my own strength," says Asshur, "that I have 
done all this ; it is by my wisdom and my intelli- 
gence that I have altered the frontiers of nations, 
sacked the treasures, overthrown the kings, and 

* Isaiah, from ch. x. v. 5, to end of ch. xii. 

b 2 


crushed the peoples." "What folly ! the pride of 
Asshur will be punished. His policy is to extermi- 
nate the peoples one after the other. Calno and 
Karkemis, Hamat and Arpad,* Damascus and 
Samaria, have succumbed. t Jerusalem, upon whom 
the example of Samaria has been lost, will have the 
same fate. The prophet hears, so to speak, the 
tramp of the enemy marching from the north and 
crushing everything upon his passage .% 

It is just when Asshur thinks himself sure of 
taking Jerusalem that Iahveh seizes His axe and 
lays it at the root. Asshur was like a Lebanon 
covered with tall forests ; Iahveh hews them down 
and humbles him.§ The defeats of Israel are in this 
respect peculiar, that they are never complete. A 
remnant of Israel is always preserved by Iahveh to 
form the nucleus of a renaissance which will be the 
era of happiness. || The just have been the cause 
of victory ; the just shall reign beneath the sceptre 
of a perfect king, who, in the mind of the prophet, 
is at once Hezekiah and the ideal king of the 
future theocracy. 

The two families of Israel reunited^" will defeat 
the Philistines, the Edomites, the Moabites, and the 
Ammonites. Iahveh, renewing the miracles of the 

* Tell-Erfad, to the north of Aleppo. 

f It is remarkable that there should be no allusion to Tyr. 

J See Isaiah, ch. x. v. 28 and following. 

§ Isaiah, ch. x. y. 33, 34. 

See vol. ii. p. 427. , 

\ See Isaiah, ch. xi. 


Exodus, will make Euphrates passable for the 
remnant of his people dispersed in Assyria, so 
that they may return dry shod. The just of the 
ideal kingdom then burst forth in triumphant song. 
Victory will be the fruit of moral improvement ; 
for, in order to have the countenance of Iahveh, a 
man must be pure. True policy is that based on 
moral order. The nation which maintains order 
may be sorely tried, but not overcome. 

At no moment is the conception of the pietists of 
Israel more clearly seen than now. The State is a 
function of religion : the enemies and the hike- 
warm servants of Iahveh wreck the public weal ; 
the guardians of the public weal are, therefore, in 
duty bound to see that Iahveh is served as he 
deserves to be. The true worship of Iahveh is 
purely of heart and deed, a loathing for material 
symbols, whether in wood or in metal. The servants 
of Iahveh are the poor and the humble. The rich 
are, as a rule, hard, impious, and violent. The 
first duty of the pious sovereign is to be just to- 
wards the poor of God, and to repress with rigour 
the oppression of the poor by the rich ; the poor 
will in their turn reign. 

Such was, without any sensible difference, the 
doctrine of all the Iahveist prophets. Now, during 
the years which followed the ruin of the kingdom 
of Israel, the prophets' party was all-powerful in 
Judaea. The king surrendered himself to it unre- 
servedly. His temperament was naturally inclined 


towards piety and justice. The body of Hebraic 
writings was already a very considerable one, and 
sufficed to serve as a basis for a moral education, 
Hezekiah deriving from them many of his good 
qualities and the serious bent of his mind. He 
appears to have been much younger than Isaiah, 
and to have possessed even more profoundly the 
literary culture which distinguished that prophet 
and Micah. He was almost a man of letters,* and 
he was above all a pietist ; but the excesses of zeal 
into which pietism lapses were in this instance 

One is sometimes tempted to believe that the 
ardour with which Hezekiah devoted himself to 
true religion was the result of a conversion, of a 
powerful moral revulsion which brought about an 
irrevocable attachment to the ideal which he held 
to be absolutely true.f The official proclamation of 
Judaism would thus have been very similar to that 
of Buddhism, brought about by the conversion of 
King Asolkva. The Jewish psychology does not seem 
to call for any step of the sort. The language of 
Isaiah and of Micah, in the first years of Hezekiah, 
does not differ materially from what was said under 
Ahaz.J Iahveism implied a theocratical leaven 
which could not fail to develop itself. The Iahveism 
of the prophets of Judah is essentially a social 

* Proverbs, ch. xxv. v. i. 

"f 2 Chronicles, cb. xxx. and xxxi. / 

% See vol. ii. pp. 435, 436. 


religion ; its aim is the reformation of society in 
accordance with justice. The king is the keystone 
of the Iahveist edifice. The king is chosen, conse- 
crated by God.* He is the mesih (anointed) of God. 
His duty is to cause God to reign, and to be guided 
by the advice of the men of God, that is to say by 
his prophets. Hezekiah, therefore, merely followed 
the indication of events which, in his eyes, were the 
clear manifestation of the will of Iahveh, the taking 
of Samaria, the captivity of Hosea. There were 
not two men in Hezekiah : he had become convinced 
by more or less striking signs. If Shalmanezer 
had not undertaken his campaign in Syria, it is 
probable that Jerusalem would have continued, in 
spite of Isaiah and Micah, to have gone on vege- 
tating in the sort of religious mediocrity from 
which she was unable to extricate herself. I may 
go further and say that, but for the great events 
which seemed to be the justification of the Iahveist 
oracles, Isaiah and Micah would not have been 
what they were. Iahveh is the living God of 
history, the God who governs the world. He tri- 
umphs in history; the great revolutions of the 
world are His manifestations. 

* Analogous ideas prevailed with Iehaumelek, king of Byblos 
Corpus inscr. semit. 1st part, No. 1. 



Fkom about 721 to 711 tlie condition of Judasa 
appears to have been fairly prosperous. In the 
first years following the capture of Samaria the 
situation of Hezekiah with respect to the empire of 
Assyria was that of a vassal. One circumstance, 
however, occurred which made his position less 
untenable than might be imagined. Shalmanezer 
died before the war with Samaria was over, and 
was succeeded by one of his officers, named Sary- 
ouhin, or S argon. The commencement of a new 
dynasty is always a favourable moment for those 
whom the preceding dynasty has left in subjection. 
Sargon was too powerful a sovereign for the 
prudent Hezekiah to think of rebelling against 
him. The proposals, real or imaginary, of Egypt 
were, nevertheless, a standing temptation, just as 
at the present time the Russian alliance is for 
uneasy spirits in France. The political advisers of 
the king were in favour of it, among them a certain 


Shebna, or Sebent,* who was perhaps a Seben- 
nyte, and certainly a foreigner, a man without any 
family, who attained the rank of solcen, or privy 
adviser of the king, and was invested with the 
functions of prefect of the palace. Isaiah and the 
prophets were opposed to the Egyptian alliance, in 
harmony with their general principle that human 
means are an insult to Iahveh, and also because of 
the correct view they had formed as to the military 
situation of the time. 

In 711 the temptation was stronger than ever,f 
when the tartan, or general, of the armies of 
Assyria traversed the land of Judah to conduct an 
expedition to Egypt and to Ethiopia. The first 
act in the campaign was the siege of Asdod. A 
general league of Egypt and the Palestine countries 
seemed to be clearly indicated, but Isaiah offered 
the most strenuous opposition to this policy, and 
resorted, in order to combat it, to the ocular de- 
monstrations which were customary with him. On 
a certain day he was seen walking through the 
streets of Jerusalem barefooted, in a state of shame- 
ful nudity. He declared that Iahveh had ordered 
him to show himself in this state in order that men 

* The two forms KJ3B> and niQP come from the form nJ3E>, 
by the confusion of K and n, which frequently occurs in ancient 
writing, and from the confusion of n and n» wh ch is frequent in 
modern writing. See vol. ii. p. 47, note 4. 

j" Isaiah, ch. xx., borrowed from a book in which Isaiah is alludcJ 
to. Compare Dillmann, Del Proph. Jessara, pp. 182-183. 


miçht see in what an iprtominious * state the kin or 
of Assyria would bring back the prisoners from 
Egypt and Ethiopia. 

The hatred of Isaiah against the man whom he 
calls the " shame of the house of his master," is 
expressed in a less eccentric form, in a fragment 
where the internal dissensions of the court of 
Hezekiah are rendered very palpable. t Shebna, 
whose father is never mentioned, and who must 
have been of low extraction, lived in great state, 
and hewed for himself, like the parvenu that he was, 
a court in the rock of the royal hill. This infu- 
riated the pietist coterie. "Iahveh," they said, "will 
hurl him down from the summit of his honours ; 
his chariots will avail him nought." The intrigue 
for the displacement of Shebna was evidently ma- 
tured. The candidate of the theocratic party was 
Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah,{ who was, in accord- 
ance with eastern usage^ to raise all his family to 
places of honour with him. Iahveh apostrophises 
Shebna and extols the merits of the sainted man, 
who will make good his misdeeds. § Eliakim, as a 
matter of fact, succeeded Shebna || as master of the 
household, but the latter none the less retained 
great authority at court. % In reality, Isaiah was 

* See vol ii. pp. 26 and 419. 
■f Isaiah, ch. xxii. v. 15-25. 
{ Compare Isaiah, ch. xxxvi. v. 3. 
§ Isaiah, ch. xxii. v. 20-25. 

| Isaiah, ch. xxxvi. 7. 3 ; 2 Kings, ch. xviii. v.' 18. 
% Sec below, pp. ( J3, 106. 


right, despite the strange character of his argu- 
ments. Egypt did not furnish anything solid to 
lean upon ; it was Assyria who was the true organ 
of Iahveh, for Assyria was strong. The prophets, 
who saw the action of Iahveh in whatever tri- 
umphed, were in duty bound to be for Assyria. It 
is not with impunity that one executes the decrees 
of Iahveh, that one is his minister, the executor 
of his plans.* Pagan force charged with such a 
mission must have appeared something sacred. It 
is thus that the prophetic party was led to greet 
Assyria and then Persia as divine institutions. The 
court of Rome, always on the side of the strongest, 
is the true heir of this policy. The strong man 
does the will of God, and to disobey him is to dis- 
obey the will of God. Let me add that, being 
almost indifferent in matters of religion, the Assy- 
rians were regarded by the pious populations of 
Syria very much as the Moguls were by the crusa- 
ders. They did not exercise any restraint upon 
religious liberty, which was clearly one these races 
always cared for. Subject in political matters to 
an empire which respects its religion, such, from 
the earliest antiquity, has been the position logi- 
cally sought by Israel. This state of vassality 
towards Assyria had for Hezekiah substantial 
advantages. Assyria does not appear to have 
attempted to define very strictly her frontiers. 
Several towns of the kingdom of Israel were 

* In Isaiah, ch. x. v. 10-11, Asshur reasons as a Iahvist. 


attached to Judah. Upon the Philistine side,* the 
armies of Hezekiah were completely victorious. 
The country, no doubt exhausted by its struggles 
against Assyria, f fell into the hands of the king of 
Judah up to its southernmost borders, that is to 
say as far as Gaza. 

The organisation of royalty appears to have 
again become, during the good years of Hezekiak's 
reign, what it was at the best epoch of the dynasty 
of David. The king is surrounded by soferim, con- 
stituting a sort of administrative class, and by 
sohenim, who were ministers or councillors. The 
prefect of the palace, or majordomo, is the chief 
sohen, 2b sort of vizier. This place, as we have seen, 
in connection with Shebna and Eliakim, conferred 
great power and was the object of keen compe- 
tition. The priests appear to have been subordi- 
nate, and to have been reduced to the service of the 
temple. The prophets were everything ; they had 
gained in proportion as the civil order had lost by 
the victories of Assyria. 

The public works at Jerusalem, which seem to 
have been carried on with great activity under 
Ahaz, were still more active in the reign of Heze- 
kiah. The city was completely transformed, the 
population was largely increased, and it is probable 
that many Israelites, with no home since the break 
up of the kingdom of the north, came to settle 

* 2 Kings, ch. xviii. v. 8. "f Isaiuh, ch. xx.-v. 1. 


The water supply was always the great difficulty 
in Jerusalem, the city being situated close to the 
watershed between the Mediterranean and the 
Dead Sea, and with only a few very distant sum- 
mits above it. The population of Jerusalem has 
always depended upon its cisterns, which are very 
numerous and well executed. The small spring of 
Gihon, upon the slope of Sion, sends forth only a 
tiny stream. The waters collected at the com- 
mencement of the western valley are of little use, 
and are derived entirely from the surrounding land. 
Hezekiah endeavoured to make the most of this 
scanty supply,* and at the same time to take the 
necessary precautions so that, in the event of a 
siege, the city could not have its water supply cut 
off. He had built within the city a vast basin,f 
and had dug a conduit underground to bring in, 
during the rainy season, the waters of the upper 
pool (Birlcet Mamillah), itself fed by the waters of 
the tableland. 

* The basins of Etham were certainly made for supplying the 
city with water. They are never alluded to in the Bible. This 
able piece of work, the only defect of which is that it presupposes a 
very precise administration in the country, appears to have been 
due to Pilate (Jos. B. J. iii. 14, 4). 

■f 2 Kings, ch. xx. v. 20. It is probably Amygdala, or Birket 
Hammam el-Batrak. If the pool of 2 Kings, ch. xx. v. 20 is the 
same as the old pool of Isaiah, ch. xxii. v. 11, it is to be assumed 
that Hezekiah merely repaired an ancient work. The description 
between the two walls given by Isaiah would just answer to 
this site, which Hezekiah would merely have covered with a second 


The works of the Siloh nppear to have been 
executed in the time of Aha/,* though they were 
perhaps completed in Hezekiah's reign, and were, 
at all events, attributed to liim.f This Siloh, or 
" emissary," was an underground canal destined to 
bring to the royal gardens and to the south-eastern 
gate the waters of the Gihon fountain, perhaps to 
safeguard them from the action of the enemy. A 
recently discovered inscription { tells us that the 
work of piercing the soil was undertaken at the two 
extremities, and shows the trouble which the two 
squads of workmen had to meet under the hill. 
An examination of the underground works testifies 
at once to a good deal of boldness and to no little 
hesitation in a work which must, in the absence of 
perfected calculations, have presented enormous 

Hebrew art appears to have attained its highest 

degree under Hezekiah. The carrying away of the 

objects of art which occurred in the time of Ahaz § 

was soon made good. The palace recovered all its 

ornaments, and we shall find Hezekiah, at the end 

of his reign, proud of the richly-chased treasures 

he had succeeded in amassing. || The Assyrian 

style was already competing successfully against 

the Egyptian imitation which the Phoenicians had 

• See vol. ii. pp. 509, 511. 

f 2 Chronicles, ch. xxxii ; Sirach, xlviii. 17. 

J See vol. ii. p. 427, note 1. 

§ See vol ii. p. 42'J. 

[J See below, pp. 117-118 


brought into fashion ; another symbolism was be- 
ginning to prevail.* The temple was re-established 
in its splendour, although the simplicity of the 
worship was not affected. We know nothing of the 
priestly dress of that time.f The troops of Lévites 
and singers, which are supposed to be as a vast 
choir around the temple, are merely the imagina- 
tion of the author of the Chronicles, borrowed from 
the second temple. At Easter, canticles were sung, 
and the pilgrimages were accompanied in their 
march by the sound of the flute ; % religious senti- 
ments were expressed by the sound of the neginotli, 
but there is nothing to prove that the music of the 
temple was already organised. § The prophets, who 
had so depreciated the coJianim,, were not in favour 
of the application of art to religion. Their worship 
was entirely abstract. What was the good of all 
this pomp and external show ? God only demands 
of man justice and a pure heart. 

Socialist utopisms need, in order to develop 
freely, a fairly prosperous epoch. People do not 
declaim with full effect except when they are not 
so very badly off. Whatever Isaiah may say when 
he is in a very bad humour, the government did 
realise as full a measure of order and justice as the 

* Isaiah, ch. vi. 

"f The lengthy details given in Leviticus refer to the second 

\ Isaiah, ch. SO, v. 29. 

§ The thanksgiving of Hezekiah (Isaiah, ch. xxxviii. v. 20) does 
not give the idea of a regular liturgical music. 


country and the time were capable of. But great 
races of men are insatiable. They always exclaim 
against the insufficiency of the dose of liberty and 
equality which is assigned to them. It is not well 
to be too resigned. The state of holy disquiet in 
which the prophets lived was the great religious 
propeller of the genius of this people, the guarantee 
of its future. The impossible character of the dreams 
which prevented these marvellous agitators from 
taking their sleep could not as yet be discovered. 
They wanted justice, and time was needed to make 
it clear that the abuses which they called injustices 
were inherent in the natural conditions of existence, 
and that to suppress them it would have been 
necessary to suppress human life. 




It is just within this period of relative peace and 
prosperity which marked the reign of Hezekiah 
that we may approximately place the definite 
fixture of the Iahveist religion such as the prophets 
of Ahab's time had conceived it, such as Isaiah and 
Micah had worked it out. Iahveh no longer has 
any connection with nature. His character as 
a national God is for the moment effaced ; the 
victory of Monotheism appears to be complete. 
Iahveh is the Grod who has made heaven and earth. 
He wishes to do that which is good. Man does Him 
homage by acting with justice. This is a worship 
which all the world can pay Him, and in this sense 
all humanity is called to the worship of Iahveh.* 

Iahveh exercises justice in the ordinary human 
way, governing the world in the smallest detail as 
an absolute master. f The reality here often sug- 

* See vol. ii. p. 405 and following, 
t See vol. ii. pp. 241, 242. 


t8 history of the peotle OF ISRAEL. 

ited to tlio thinker who was the easiest to 
satisfy strange objections, the good man being 
often unhappy and the perverse man seemingly 
rewarded. Iahveism floundered in this morass. 
Iahwh, questioned with regard to His providence, 
only replies to man by thunderclaps. The govern- 
ment of the world is perfectly just, though man is 
not to know how. There is never any appeal made 
by the wise men of that day to rewards or punish- 
ments beyond the tomb. The justice of Iahveh, 
moreover, is summary ; He punishes corporate 
offences at the risk of involving more than one 
innocent person. This justice is above all things 
intermittent; Iahveh varies from day to day; He 
lets human perversity reach its height, and then He 
appears upon the scene and punishes it. 

The whole history of the world is the develop- 
ment of a plan conceived and desired by Iahveh. 
The race of Israel is the pivot of this history. 
Iahveh has chosen it from among the Aramean 
family as a privileged tribe ; His eyes have been 
following it for over two thousand years. The 
great mark of affection which He showed it was to 
take it out of Egypt by the hand of his servant 
Moses, to whom, in the desert of Sinai, he gave 
several manifestations of His desires, without the 
source of these miracles being exhausted. Iahveh 
constantly speaks through his nabis, who are a per- 
manent source of revelation. In the eighth century 
r,. c. divination by means of the ephod had nearly 


disappeared, but necromancy was in greater vogue 
than ever; the qosem was almost as much consulted 
as the nabi. But, according to the pure Iahveist, 
Iahveh alone ought to be consulted. Any other 
oracle than His was an insult to His majesty, and 
implied the supposition that there existed some 
prophetic and divine power inherent in nature. 

Assyria is the force which Iahveh sets in motion 
for the execution of his secret plans, which are 
neither more nor less than the realisation of a 
just world by means of Israel. The kingdom of 
Samaria, which was so far removed from this per- 
fection, was already destroyed; that of Judah pro- 
bably will be as well. But the destinies of Sion 
are eternal, Sion will be the centre of a regenerated 
humanity. The true king of Bethlehemite dynasty, 
the ideal David, who has not yet been seen, will 
appear and reunite in his hand the whole of Israel. 
At once king and prophet, he will lead the people 
into the way of pure Iahveism. The world will then 
recognise the superiority of Sion; the universe will 
become Iahveist; the sacrifices will be abolished; 
the true worship of Iahveh will be justice and 

Such is the splendid dream in which was con- 
centrated all the power of loving and believing 
possessed by the pious Judaists about 720 — 710 b.c. 
The reign of Hezekiah was the period in which 
the chief characteristics of this golden age were 
definitely delineated. Messiahnism is a creation of 



Jerusalem, not of the Northern tribes. David, 
S ion, a legitimate dynasty, these were all a sine qua 
non. The king was a necessary feature in the new 
ideal conceived by Judah. Hezekiah answered to 
some of these characteristics of the perfect Davidic 
king. At times, it might be thought that the great 
destiny of Israel would be revealed through him,* 
notably when surrounded by pious persons like 
Eliakim and his family. The coming signs, how- 
ever, were not sufficiently in view ; the times were 
too severe. The theocratic king was relegated to 
the future; he became as it were a sun which 
would appear at the end of all things. But this 
evening of the world would be so grand that 
people resigned themselves to not see it; it was 
enough that they should have laboured to bring 
it about. 

This singular religious system, the least mytho- 
logical and metaphysical ever conceived by a 
civilised brain, was not, in reality, anything other 
than the old patriarchal Elohism brought to life, 
become humanitarian and imported into history. 
Deism was so deep-rooted in these incorrigible 
nomads that it succeeded in expelling, by a long 
process of elimination, the strong dose of paganism 
which had pervaded Israel with the false God 
Iahveh, a deity essentially local and national. The 
nabis, stubborn representatives of the old Mono- 
theistic spirit, had succeeded. Iahveh was no more 



than a symbol of Elohism.* What was said of God 
was said of Iahveh, and as God had created heaven 
and earth, so had Iahveh, who, in short, purely and 
simply signified " God,"t without any distinction. 

The two words came to be used indistinctively. 
The word Iahveh was given an etymology which 
made it mean the only God. The very dominant 
idea was that the name of Iahveh was part of the? 
Sinaiatic revelation, that God himself had explained 
it to Moses, deriving it from the root haïa, or hawa 
(Aramean), which means being. I This idea, a very 
taking one assuredly, did not, however, exclude 
two older systems, which had their partisans. Upon 
the one hand it was held that Abraham offered 
sacrifices in the name of Iahveh § ; upon the other, 
that the use of that solemn name dates from the 
earliest ages of humanity, from the patriarch Setli, 
son of Adam. || From the period, already posses- 
sing a certain dose of philosophy, at which we have 
arrived, many minds no doubt said to themselves 
that there was a good deal of false reasoning in all 
this ; that this Iahveh, with his personal policy and 
providence, was, after all, a special God, very dis- 

* See vol. i. p. 71 and following, 218 and following; vol. ii. p. 
221 and following. 

i It is thus that in the middle ages Christ was assigned all the 
functions of God, and that in our day the removal of the crucifix 
from schools has bô<*±: regarded aa tantamount to excluding God 
from them. 

J Exodus, ch. iii. v. 14. § Genesis, ch. xv< 

I Psalm xiv. v. i. ; liii. v. 2. 


tinct from the absolute El of the sages of old, whose 
school was continued in the Themanites and the 
Beni-Qcdem.* The great contradiction which re- 
sided in the inner conscience of Israel — on the one 
hand the abstract and universal God of the uni- 
verse, upon the other the special God of Israel — ■ 
was masked by a rough sort of palliative, which 
served the purpose. We see no sign that the pure 
Elohists, like those who wrote Job and the Pro- 
verbs, ever protested against what was pagan and 
in a measure Polytheistic in a proper name given 
to God ; nor do we see that the Iahveists ever 
stood up against a party of pure Deists, deny- 
ing that Israel had, like the other tribes, a special 
protecting God. Both had for a common adver- 
sary the group of fools who said " there is no 
God."t These alone were the perverse and the 
dangerous men. % As they were careful not to com- 
mit their ideas to writing, we do not know how 
numerous they were. History sees only the sur- 
faces, but in reality there are only surfaces in 
humanity; they are the appearances, and, outside 
the pure scientific order, human things are but 
mere appearances. The battle won is that which 
one believes that one has won. The triumphant 
opinion is that which succeeds in proving, at a 
certain hour, that it was entitled to triumph. 

* The book of J< b sh ws a trace of this duality. 
| Psalm xiv. v. i.; liii. v. 2. 

\ The symbolic name ^KTVK (Proverbs, ch. xxx. V. 1, seems an 
aiïnmation (El existe) made to rei'ute these foolish people. 


It is because the Iahveist movement of the pro- 
phets was a retrogression, an effort to revert to a 
more ancient and a purer religion, that the great 
prophetic movement of the eighth century so re- 
sembles Protestantism. The work of the prophets 
who surrounded Hezekiah, without being entirely 
his masters, consisted in refining, in eliminating 
the dross. The essential character of Judaism is 
henceforth clearly marked ; it is a Puritan refor- 
mation, a negation, a religion of preventive mea- 
sures and of precautions. Ancient Iahveism had 
never succeeded in setting absolutely upon one side 
superstitions, whether they were derived from the 
ancient nomads or were the imitations of Cananean 
and Aramean forms of worship. The wise were 
content to smile at these frivolities, and did not 
much care if their wives carried grotesque little 
gods in their pockets and their baggage. About 
the middle of the seventh century there was more 
notice taken of these matters. Two duties were, 
as the Puritans thought, incumbent upon them ; 
first of all, to expel all that was not Iahveism, and 
then to disencumber Iahveism itself of the tolerances 
which, according to the prophets, tarnished its 

The destruction of the kingdom and of the sanc- 
tuaries of the North gave considerable importance to 
the temple of Jerusalem. Up to that time, as I have 
said, this petty naos had been little more than the 
private chapel of the King of Jerusalem. Now, each 


day saw its destinies grow, and it gradually grew 
to be the national sanctuary of all Israel; while 
it became the focus of an ardent piety, a host of 
zealous worshippers regarding its absolute purity 
as an article of faith. Isaiah, no doubt, gave too 
little thought to this small house of stone to ha^e 
offered the king any advice on this subject. K"or do 
we find that it was his habit to select the porticos 
near the temple for his preachings, as did other 
prophetic schools. The temple under Hezekiah 
was purified and sanctified, not embellished or de- 
veloped.* It was with it as with a church of the 
middle ages, St. Peter's at Geneva, coming under 
the influence of Calvin. It is possible that several 
of the ornamentations made in the time of Solomon, 
not remarkable for their good taste, may have been 
carefully overhauled at this period; and perhaps 
the absence of figured work in the description of 
the decoration of the temple, t which seemed rather 


strange^ was due, not to the taste of the founder, 
but to acts of vandalism committed by the zealots 
of a later age. But this is no more than mere hypo- 
thesis. If these aftertouches had been upon any 
considerable scale, it seems probable that there 
would be some written allusion to it, for we know, 
by means of a formal text, % the boldest step which 

* The amplifications of the Chronicles (Book 2, ch. xxix. and 
following) have no historical value, 
t See vol. ii. pp. 128- i 29. 
\ 2 Kings, ch. xviii. v. 4. 


tlie spirit of iconoclasm impelled the new reformers 
to take. 

Of all the utensils of the temple, that which most 
displeased the prophets was what was called the 
Nehushtan (abbreviation, with a play upon the 
words, of nehas nehost, serpent of brass), an ancient 
talisman which Moses was said to have had made 
against the stinging of serpents. The Israelites 
had hitherto offered incense to it as to a god, and 
it may very possibly have been an ancient image of 
Iahveh, derived from a time in which this god was 
represented under forms borrowed from Egypt.* 
Hezekiah had it broken to pieces. f To effect so 
bold an innovation as this a religious party need be 
very strong, for the Nehushtan was a national relic 
of the first order, and a national religion is always 
superstitious. The day upon which Hezekiah 
ordered the brazen serpent of Moses to be broken 
he did what the Protestants, emulating him in a 
measure, did in the sixteenth century, when they 
mutilated the Gothic saints and broke down the 
most venerable altars. The horror of priestly 
imposture and of religious materialism overrode 
respect of tradition. Devoted to abstraction and 
to the absolute truth, the Jewish prophet is more 
than a patriot. The falsehoods with which the 
patriot is so easily satisfied cause his gorge 
to rise. The fabulous attribution of some virtue 

♦ S-e vol. i. pp. 125, 152. 
f 2 Kings, ch. xviii. v. 4. 


to a natural object seems to him an encroach- 
ment upon the power of Iahveh. More and 
more the religion of the prophets of Jerusalem 
becomes a humanitarian religion, and ceases to be 
a worship in keeping with a race or a country. 

Neither Solomon, nor any of his successors up to 
the date we have reached, thought of making the 
temple of Jerusalem the exclusive place for sacri- 
fices. The high places of ancient times continued 
to be places of worship. Iahveh was worshipped 
there, and in many cases local divinities as well. 
The country was covered with masséboth or sacred 
pillars, and with asêroth or phallic stelae, bearing the 
sign of Astarte ' . These objects shocked the Puri- 
tans, who obtained the permission of Hezekiah to sup- 
press them.* Did they also demand the unification of 
the place of worship — a demand which, as it appears, 
would have been calculated to please royalty, which 
is always inclined towards centralisation? The 
Judaic prophets of the eighth century are constantly 
expressing their desire for this. Their ideal is 
Iahveh adored in Sion, and in Sion only.f It is 
probable that Isaiah more than once entreated 
Hezekiah to suppress the extra-urban sacrifices. { 

* 2 Kings, ch. xviii. v. 4. f Isaiah, ch. xxx. v. 29. 

J The passages, Isaiah, ch. xxxvi. v. 7, and 2 Kings, ch. xviii. 
v. 22, would lead to the supposition that this reform was, as a 
matter of fact, effected. But there is a misapprehension here, the 
Assyrian message confusing the idolatrous worships upon the high 
places which Hezekiah did away with (2 Kings, ch. xviii. v. 4) and 
the sacrifices of Iahveh which were offered on these same high places 
and only abolished in the time of Josiah. 


But although the king was in perfect accord with 
the pious party, he never allowed himself to be 
entirely led by it. His attitude reminds one of 
that of St. Louis — so deeply religious and yet main- 
taining a certain independence with regard to the 
clergy. The suppression of the local sacrifices 
would certainly have entailed unpleasantness and 
disturbances, as it did in the reign of Josiah. 
Whereas the characteristic of the movement set on 
foot by Hezekiah and Isaiah, in opposition to that 
for which Josiah and Jeremiah were responsible, is 
that it was not, at all events in its first phase, 
accompanied by any crisis or by any rigorous 

Here we have a very remarkable fact, and it 
would be difficult to find its parallel in religious 
history. More than once, no doubt, the king was 
advised to strike hard at the impenitent,* but 
there is no proof that he ever gave way. He did 
not do more than give the places in his household 
and all the important charges in his gift to pious 
men who were recommended by Isaiah, such as 
Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah. So far as we know, 
he did not persecute any one. Even the city of 
Jerusalem was not given over to a state of absolute 
purification. Representations which were regarded 
as idolatrous, or at all events as scandalous, by 
austere Iahveists were still to be seen there. t The 

* See below, p. 39, and following, p. 97. 

\ Isaiah, ch. x. v. 11 ; ch. xxvii. v. 9; ch. xxix. v. 11 and 


king did not think lie had the right to suppress 
these representations, which were repugnant to his 
personal feelings, but which the customs of the time 

Circumcision grew from being a simple prepara- 
tion for marriage, which it was at first, to be more 
and more a religious rule at Jerusalem. It was one 
of the oldest usages of the nation, but its religious 
signification was not at first very clear.* The 
prophets never allude to this practice, evidently 
regarding it as very secondary. f Neither the book 
of the Alliance nor the Decalogue contained any- 
thing in this respect, doubtless because the thing 
was treated as a matter of course, and was not 
yet regarded as a precept. The religious character, 
nevertheless, grew more and more decided. The 
law of the circumcision was soon to become a fun- 
damental law.{ Important fragments of the Blohist 
narrative seek to demonstrate that this operation is 
compulsory upon the descendants of Abraham. § 
All clearsighted persons, well-ordered heads of a 

following; ch. xxx. v. 9 and following, 22. Compare Micah, ch. v. 
v. 11-18. See vol. ii. pp. 435, 436. Micah only saw the first 
years of Hezekiah, anterior, perhaps, to the reforms. 

* See vol. i. p. 104 and following. 

f In the same way we should find no allusion to vaccination in 
all the sermons and catechisings of our dny. 

J Exodus, eh. xii. v. 48 ; Leviticus, ch. xii. v. 3; ch. xix. v. 23; 
ch. xxvi. v. 41; Joshua, ch. v. 

§ Geuosis, ch. xvii. Compare ch. xxi. v. 4; ch. xxxiv. (the 
episode of the Shechemites) is a mixture of Iahveist and Elohist. 


family, had it performed upon their children so as 
to spare them being afterwards placed in an embar- 
rassing position, just as we have our children vacci- 
nated in the present day. It was understood that 
Iahveh wished it to be so, and that one of His 
precepts was disregarded if a child was not cir- 
cumcised soon after birth. The Jewish festivals 
developed, but they did not attain anything 
universal or national.* The passover, fused with 
the feast of unleavened bread, became the great 
annual festival. It was inaugurated at night, and 
was accompanied by rejoicing and song.f The 
pious even already believed that this festival was 
the memorial of the miraculous exodus from Egypt. { 
But for the great majority it was merely the great 
spring feast of Iahveh. The idea that all religious 
acts gained in importance by being celebrated in 
the temple at Jerusalem became more and more 
prevalent. § The petty size of the kingdom of Judah 
rendered such an idea practicable. The worshippers 
who were the furthest away from Jerusalem had 
not more than twenty-five miles to come. There 
was already in formation around the temple a group 
of very ardent devotees, who became the residents, 
the gerim, of it.|| These gerim of Iahveh had not 

* See vol. i. p. 46 and following ; vol. ii. p. 298 and following. 

j" Compare Isaiah, ch. xxx. v. 29. 

J Exodus, ch. xii. 

§ Isaiah, ch. xxx. v. 29 ; compare Psalm cxxii. v. 1-4, 

|| See vol. ii. pp. 44, 45- 


up to that time been anything better than parasites, 
living upon the sacrifices and the junketings which 
went on around the temple, but a moral spirit was 
introduced into this institution, which, moreover, 
never produced anything that was good. It was 
thought that, to be the neighbour of Iahveh, great 
moral purity was requisite.* The virtuous man 
consoled himself by saying to God, " The foolish 
shall not stand in Thy sight."! 

• Psalm xv. 
f Psalm v. v. 5. 




Thus was constituted an excellent type of morality 
already in germ in the writings of the earlier 
prophets, and now represented by a party and 
forming a school. It was a morality for the lower 
and the middle classes, who were hungering for 
justice and uprightness, who detested the haughty 
bearing of the aristocrats, who understood but 
little as to the necessities of the State, and who 
affected a gentle and humble bearing. Preached 
Avith fervour by the prophets and their disciples 
up to the time of the definite constitution of 
Judaism, practised by the pious Jews during the 
centuries immediately preceding the Christian era, 
propagated by Christianity, this morality became 
that of the human race ; thanks to it, the rights 
of the poor, or, to be more accurate, of the weak, 
have everywhere prevailed, at least, up to the time 
when Christianity, with its original nature becom- 
ing completely warped, formed an alliance with the 


military and aristocratic classes, and simply preached 
to the poor resignation. 

In the ideal distribution which he had made to His 
people of worldly goods, Iahveh had not foreseen that 
there would be rich and poor. The rich, in the eyes 
of the consistent Iahvist, are an obstacle to pro- 
gress. The constant objective of Iahveist policy is to 
protect the weak against the strong and to reduce 
to a minimum the advantages of the rich over the 
poor.* The king is the king of the poor.t To 
lend money at usury is a crime. The rich is, as a 
rule, represented as a man of violence, bent solely 
upon despoiling the weak. In the mind of the 
Israelite pietists the origin of a large fortune is 
always bad. They were of St. Jerome's opinion : 
Omnis dives iniquus aut hxres iniqui. It is the 
prevailing idea in the Bast. The poor man is 
there regarded a priori as good, the rich man as 
wicked. Upon one occasion when I was speaking 
in eulogistic terms to my dragoman of the inha- 
bitants of a village which we had just passed 
through, he replied, " It is not surprising, they are 
all poor people." 

The poor man is the friend of Iahveh, and some 
singular synonyms proceed from this idea. The 
word anav, " gentle," and the word ani, " poor, 
afflicted," both derived from a root which means 
humility, come to be used indiscriminately for each 

* See vol. ii. p. 358 and following. 

| Isaiah, ch. xi. v. 4. Compare xiv. v. 30, 32; ch. xxii. v. 19. 


other.* " Poor, afflicted, unfortunate, oppressed, 
gentle, resigned, pious, humble " were not distin- 
guishable the one from the other. The words 
which signified, strictly speaking, " poor " (dal, 
ébion) became the equivalents of holy men, friends 
of God. The expressions " the poor of God or 
the poor of Iahveh, the humble of the land, the 
weak of the earth, the gentle among the people," 
were names by which the pure Iahveists were desig- 
nated, t All this was due to a sentiment analogous 
to that which in the Middle Ages created the 
names of minors, minims, the poor of God, humi- 
liati, etc. The feeling of resigned melancholy 
which fills the heart of the poor is in some of its 
aspects akin to piety, and humility of feeling 
predisposes in some degree to devotion. J Upon 

* Let me add that, owing to the paleographical confusion of iod 
and of vav, d*1J¥j *1J¥» and D"jy "2$, were treated as practically the 
same by the copyists. 

t See Gesenius at the words uy and >jy. The words ani, anav, 
as designating the pious, are to be found in the oldest of the 
prophets, with ébion and dal as their synonyms. Amos, ch. ii., v. 
6 and 7 (synonym of saddiq, ébion. dal, anav); compare v. 11 
(see vol. ii. p. 428) : Zachariah, ch. ix. v. 9; Psalm x. v. 2; xiv. 
v. 5-6; cxii. v. 9-10; cxl. v. 13-14. We find this use made of 
them at nearly every page of Isaiah, and of the later prophets, 
even in reference to the well-to-do. In Jeremiah, ch. xx. v. 13, 
{Vnx is taken in the religious sense. The use of these words in the 
Psalms is very frequent, but in these cuses the date is nearly 
always uncertain. In the book of the Alliance (Exodus, ch. xxii. 
v. 24), in Agur (Proverbs, ch. xxx. v. 14), in the Strong Woman 
(Proverbs, ch. xxxi. v. 20), 1:^ bears its natural meaning. 

J In certain Arab proverbs, j^L^ has a complimentary sig- 



the other hand, the Hebrew words which mean 
"rich, great, strong" (asir, gaclol, arts) are nearly 
always to be taken as the reverse of compli- 

From the time of Hezekiah these associations of 
ideas become irrevocably fixed. t The true servant 
of Iahveh is a poor man, persecuted by the rich, 
worried by the great. Iahveh loves him because 
he is humble, because he does not cast umbrage 
upon his greatness. Iahveh is his protector, his 
justiciary ; He will in the end give him the victory. 
The enemies of Iahveh are the enemies of the poor ; 
the enemies of the poor are those of Iahveh. It is 
easy to see how such a frame of mind would easily 
degenerate into lurking hypocrisy and factitious 
humility, especially with a creed which did not 
admit that the just man should defer until another 
world his revenge and his compensations. These 
people were all terribly in earnest. Those who 
indulged in raillery (the lecim) are always repre- 
sented as impious. The léç is the frivolous, the 
bold man, the jester; he is the Voltairian of that 
age, the man of fashion, the man who girds at the 
poor. These lêcim were left to themselves ; they 
had their separate seat, which was called " the 
seat of the scornful." From this seat proceeded 

* Compare Isaiah, ch. liii. v. 9; Proverbs, ch. xviii. v. 23; 
Micah, ch. vi. v. 12 ; St. Matthew, ch. xix. v. 23, 24. The same 
remark applies to Nadib, Isaiah, chap. xiii. v. 2. 

f Isaiah, from his earliest epoch, ch. xiv. v. 32. See above, 
pi tges 6-7. 


many a gibe at the holy people ; the latter, upon 
their part, regarding this group with as much 
loathing as if they were plague-stricken.* 

A theocratic democracy, a religion residing 
nearly altogether in social questions, such was the 
Judaism of the eighth century — the true Judaism 
— of which Christianity was but the full develop- 
ment and application. The anavim or hasidimf 
form an élite among humanity ; they are the gentle 
of the earth ; they are above all the just, the 
upright (isarim), the just generation (dor saddiq), 
the faithful of the land (néemnê érès), the quiet 
people (rigêe érès), the upright hearts (isré leb), 
the followers of the perfect way (temimê dereh), the 
men who fear God, who love Him, who have trust 
in Him, who seek Iahveh.f This is the point at 
which one must stand to see the dividing of the 
two lines which, at first parallel to each other, 
afterwards diverge ad infinitum. Constituting a 
sort of fraternity or pious association, § the anavim 
keep up relations only among one another, so that 
they may not suffer defilement. || When the name 
of Pharisees was applied to these pietists about the 

* Psalm i. v. i. 

f Hasidim is the favourite word used in the Psalms ; it appears 
in Micah, ch. vii. v. 2. Compare Proverbs, ch. ii. v. 8. 
| These expressions are very frequent in the Psalms. 
§ Psalm xxii. v. 23. Compare the expressions o*pn]J my, "11 D 

dhp\ mrr» *em in, D*pnp in. 

| Constant declamations against the DWli which form the 
6taple of the Psalms of this period. 



Asraonean epoch, the only real innovation was in 
regard to the words. 

The Anavim foreshadowed the Pharisees of the 
Gospel. Upon the other hand, what a future is 
reserved for this êbion, brother of the anav and 
of the hasid, who will be the first Christian 
(Ebionite),* and whose name will constitute the 
first beatitude : "Blessed are the êbionim;" It is 
impossible to describe in words to what an extent 
the whole of budding Christianity is in Isaiah, in 
his contemporaries, and in whatever there was of 
original working at this critical moment in the 
conscience of Israel. 

One thing is from the very first clear, and that 
is that Israel will found neither a republic, nor a 
kingdom, nor a civil state, nor a polis. Israel will 
found the synagogue, the pious coterie, the Church, 
Pharisaism, and Christianity. Pietism, in the long 
run, is destructive of citizenship. It is not Israel 
as a whole which is the people of Iahveh, it is the 
anavim and the hasidim alone who are the flock of 
Iahveh. Israel is but an élite of saints, the profane 
are the soil which serves to produce the chosen 
plants, the vine which serves to produce the wine. 
All this bears a strong resemblance to Islam. 
These hasidim are Mussulmans who have handed 

* See Histoire des Origines du Christianisme, vol. i. p. 132-138 
185 and following; 189-190, 376; vol. ii. p. 115 and following 
vol. iii. p. 511; vol. v. p. 44-45, 48 and following; 73-74, 195-196 
275-277; vol. vi. p. 280 and following. 


over their affairs to God.* God is their vélcil, and 
what a vékil ! He will assuredly avenge them. 
With such a course of reasoning you give an 
example of great moral discipline to the world, but 
you suppress all idea of nationality. 

The State and even the polis (especially the 
latter) imply classes, hereditary privileges, in- 
justices, abuses, liberty accorded to certain vices, 
a severe elimination of social questions. Israel, 
upon the contrary, was only bent upon securing 
social justice. A court, a military caste, an aris- 
tocracy of birth were all repugnant to it. The ébion 
accepted his poverty, but upon the condition that 
he was the friend of God and the pivot of the 
nation. Of the sacrifices which must be made for 
the country, he exaggerated some and would not 
hear of others. He was not willing to take upon 
himself the austere duties which consist in the 
acceptance of inequality, resignation to injustice. 
Thus he worked more in the interests of humanity 
than of his native land ; he lost the country which 
was supposed to be given him. Israel was destined 
to be rather a universal ferment than a special 
nation, tied down to one country. His dispersal 
was inevitable from the very outset ; it was when 
scattered that he was destined to accomplish his 
principal vocation. 

King Hezekiah presided over these transforma- 

* Psalm xxii. v. 9 ; xxxvii. v. 5 ; Proverbs, ch. xvi. v. 3. 


tions with a sort of benevolent impartiality. His 
piety was in his sentiments, in an ardent faith, in 
an absolute trust in Ialiveh. He was almost 
ntatious in his contempt for human means, 
affecting to expect no succour except from God. 
Like David, he hoped that Iahveh, in recompense 
for what he had done for Him, would have blessed 
all his undertakings. If, at times, Iahveh seemed 
to abandon him, he reproached Him half apolo- 
getically; but he did not lose heart.* His objective 
was the present life only. When Iahveh com- 
municated to him his grandiose dreams of a bound- 
less future, what did he answer ? It would be idle 
to seek to guess. The special feature of the con- 
science of Israel, the secret of his force and his 
inconsistencies, was to keep latent reserves of ideas 
which were destined to unfold themselves in due 
time, and with which, during whole centuries, he 
had seemed to have nothing in common. 

Hezekiah is entitled, therefore, to take his place 
on the first pages of the history, no longer mythical 
but henceforward positive, of Judaism. The ideal 
of the anavim was not, in fact, complete without a 
king entirely at their service. The pious poets had, 
perhaps, already composed those Psalms in which 
the perfection of the theocratic king is traced in 
such glowing colours. t In Psalm xx., one can 
hear, as it were, the prayer with which the hasidvm 

* Song, in Isaiah, ch. xxxviii. 
\ Psalm lxxii. 


greeted the king when he came to offer sacrifice ; 
while Psalm xxi., which closes as nsual with 
threats against the aristocracy hostile to reforms, is 
pervaded by an accent of victory. The king will 
not be at a loss to seek ont these wicked men in 
their hiding places and exterminate them. 

In other passages, the king sketches out for him- 
self, by the pen of his pious advisers, the perfect 
plan of a theocratic sovereign.* This Psalm may as 
well have been contemporary with Josiah as with 
Hezekiah. We see how old the Pharisaic spirit is 
in Israel. The question of social relations was an 
important one for the pious man. Our moral prin- 
ciple that there is no fear of contagion for the high- 
minded man, that he may see and touch everything 
without contracting the least defilement, was con- 
trary to the genius of the holy men of Israel. It 
was necessary to select one's company, to so 
arrange matters as to avoid relations except with 
people of one's own sect. This principle, dividing 
the world into small sects and coteries, made any- 
thing like what we call society impossible in the 
East. The necessary outcome of this was the most 
odious iniquity. The king who was to put in 
practice the maxims of the perfect King of Israel 
would be a formidable tyrant. It is dangerous to 
take as a rule of conduct the purging of the 

* Psalm ci. There are at the beginning of this Psalm certain 
superfetations due to errors of the copjists. Compare Psalm xlii. 
v. 8 and Psalm cv. v. 2. 


enemies of God, that is to say, of those supposed to 
be such, out of the city ; for G od does not take any 
one into His confidence and does not communicate 
the list of His friends. Philip II., in obedience to this 
precept, signed his lists of extermination and had 
them carried into execution the next morning. 
Israel founded morality rather than liberty. In fact, 
seven centuries b.c., no one had any idea of liberty 
as we understand the word, and Greece herself 
scarcely began to get a glimmer of it. According to 
the Iahveist compiler of Genesis, the thoughts of man 
are by nature evil; the main function of the king, 
as representative of God, is to repress. Our " large- 
hearted " liberalism would have produced the same 
effect upon these ancient believers as it produces 
upon the Mussulmans and the Protestant Puritans ; 
it seems to them the very incarnation of impiety, 
the absolute negation of the rights of Iahveh. 
The bench from which we expound this benignant 
philosophy would have seemed to them the pulpit 
of evil, and they would assuredly have called it the 
mosab lécim, "the seat of the scornful." 



The two kingdoms, as we have seen, had each their 
account of the primitive history of the Beni-Israel, 
dating from the creation to the theocratical divi- 
sion of the country by Joshua. The plan of the 
two books was the same, and so, too, was the 
religion of the two authors ; but the spirit was very 
different. The book of the North, called Iahveist, 
possessed an amplitude, a candour, and a manner of 
conceiving the rôle of Iahveh which would be 
calculated to please the pious Iahveists, whether of 
Samaria or Jerusalem. Long before the destruction 
of the kingdom of the North, the Iahveist version 
was accepted in the pious but as yet in no wise 
narrow-minded world of Jerusalem. The beautiful 
passages which it contained caused certain others 
to be condoned. Several parts of this ancient text 
would assuredly have been written differently from 
what they are if the book had been composed sub- 
sequently to the preachings of Amos, Hosea, and 


Isaiah. There was nothing, however, in the lofty 
ingenuousness of the narrative calculated to shock 
the pietists. The pride of Ephraim and of the 
northern tribes was very marked in it, but did not 
find expression in a manner offensive for Judah. 
The history of Joseph, bringing out so clearly the 
superiority of the Josephites over their brethren, 
ceased to be galling when Joseph was no longer 
alive. The Book of the Alliance, which was the 
only legislative part of the old Israelite book, con- 
tained many precepts aimed at the form of worship 
prevalent in Jerusalem, but nothing of that was in 
the nature of a direct attack. These parts might 
be taken as referring to the time of the sojourn in 
the desert. The gravest critical error would be to 
suppose that there was at that time any conception 
of a sacred text. It was believed that there had 
been revelations by Iahveh ; the principal ones were 
supposed to have beerv made to Moses on Mount 
Sinai; but no book claimed to give an exclusive 
account of these revelations. There was no one 
volume which was the Thorat Iahveh solely and par 
excellence. The divine word was accepted from 
whatever source it came, and it is probable that the 
oral tradition was regarded as a source very prefer- 
able to the written texts. 

The only difficulties which stand in the way of 
such a conception are when we imagine the legis- 
lative parts of these ancient books, especially the 
Book of the Alliance, as having legal force as soon 


as the book had secured acceptance.* It would be 
readily imagined, for instance, that Hezekiah, 
having fully adopted Iahveism, must have put in 
force the clauses contained in the small code which 
summarises them. But there can be no doubt that 
he did nothing of the kind. Several of these clauses 
were probably part of the common law, and put in 
force as such ; but never before Josiah, or even 
before the captivity, was the Jewish State governed 
by an absolutely theocratic and revealed law, and 
these codes constituted models of perfection which 
it was hoped the State would one day approach. 
But the ardent utopists who wrote them knew very 
well that their work would not forthwith force 
itself upon the judges nor be embodied in their 
judgments. The views adopted in this respect were 
very much the same as among Christian peoples, 
which, while admitting the Pentateuch as a revealed 
code, have rarely been tempted to apply its legisla- 
tion. It needed all the rigorism of Scotch Pro- 
testantism, to designate, in the enunciation of 
judgments to be carried into force, passages from 
Exodus and Deuteronomy as articles having the 
force of law. 

The best proof, moreover, that no text had as yet 
the pretension to embody the revelations of Iahveh 
is that, side by side with the narrative that we call 
Iahveist, was preserved that which we call Elohist, 

* See vol. ii. p. 314. 


the product of a more modern compilation. This 
represented the Book of the Alliance under a form 
better in harmony with the Jerusalemite idea, under 
the form of the Decalogue. It did not contain any- 
thing which could offend the susceptibilities of 
Judah, as it had been compiled at Jerusalem. And 
yet this book was less read than the Iahveist version,* 
doubtless because it was regarded as less pious, less 
calculated to teach the strict duties of Israel to 
Iahveh. The number of copies must have been very 
limited. The Elohist version, the principal object of 
which was the enumeration of genealogies, may have 
been contained in only one or two copies. People 
read very little in those days ; the spoken word 
took the place of the book, and that is why the 
words took such vivid forms, which were conceived 
with a view to strike the memory and impress 
themselves upon it. 

This duplicity in the «compilation of a book which 
day by day grew in authority, was not, however, 
without serious drawbacks. It had had its use in 
the time of the two kingdoms, but it had ceased to 
possess any since the house of Israel had been 
reduced to a small territory. If the dispersal of 
the Jews had not been so great in the Middle Ages, 
it is certain that the two Talmuds of Jerusalem and 

* The prophets and Deuteronomy make little use of it ; and yet 
it cannot be said that they are ignorant of its existense. See vol. 
ii. p. 319, 320, note. Hezekiah makes use of the tenth chapter 
(Elohist) of Genesis. 


of Babylon would eventually have been fused 
into one. The idea of thus fusing the two narra- 
tives of sacred history must have been conceived at 
a very early date, and if it is only guesswork to fix 
the date of it in the reign of Hezekiah, I believe 
that it would be difficult to find a period which 
corresponds better than his to a condition of mind 
in which such an enterprise could be conceived and 
carried out.* 

This fusion, in fact, necessitated such frank and 
candid views that it is difficult to conceive it at an 
epoch of pious scribes who superstitiously regarded 
the old books as sacred writings. It is not possible 
to hack about so freely a text admitted to be in- 
spired. Holy bodies must not be anatomised. The 
divergences between the conversions were very 
marked. The rules which the unifier followed were 
pretty much as follows : 1st, when the two narra- 
tives were identical or nearly so, to give only one, 
sacrificing the details which the other might con- 
tain ; t 2nd, when the two versions were parallel, 
without being quite the same, as was the case with 

* To take the formula in use with certain schools, K had B to 
refer to; now B was lost long before the captivity; so R must have 
done his work at an ancient epoch. 

I Thus the narrative of the death of the patriarchs is nearly 
always taken from the Elohist. In following his ordinary methods, 
subject to many repetitions, the author would have ended by 
making his characters die twice. Many times one can feel that a 
topic only to be found in the Iahveist was originally also in the 
Elohist version. 


the deluge, the history of Israel, or the episode of 
Dinah, to combine the two narratives, at the risk of 
producing an incoherent text, full of zigzags and 
tautology ; 3rd, in case of formal contradictions, to 
sacrifice one of the two narratives outright, or, 
when the possibility presented itself, to make two 
stories with one.* If the unifier of the two texts 
had believed that both of them were sacred, it is 
not possible to admit that he would have discarded 
such important facts, and especially that he would 
have left standing contradictions so pronounced as 
those which subsist, the most elementary principle 
of the human mind being that a fact cannot have 
occurred in several different ways at the same 

The method of the unifier was that of most of 
the Oriental compilers. f In most cases he made 
no change in the words of the text which he copied, 
aiming chiefly at the utilising of all the fragments 
cut off, and at losing as little as possible of his 
originals. The Arab historians read the same result 
in a more convenient manner by relating in succes- 
sion the different opinions : " there are some who 

* Thus we have the numerous alliances of the patriarchs with 
Iahveh and the consecrations of Bethel constantly recurring. It 
will be seen how analogous these methods are with those which 
attended the compilation of the Gospels, especially of that attributed 
to St. Matthew. See Histoire des Orig. du Christ., vol. v. p. 173 
and following. 

f It may also be compared to the method of Tillemont, minus 
the sidenotes and brackets. 


say," "there are otliers who say," and who termi- 
nate with the customary phrase Allah alam (" God 
knows best what is the truth "). The Bible 
narrator never leaves an option open between 
the different parties ; but he often places side by 
side, or not far apart, details which contradict 
each other; and the consequence is that certain 
narratives are only intelligible if printed in parallel 
columns, or by distinguishing the various compila- 
tions by means of different characters.* There 
was nothing like preciseness of mind in the unifier, 
and he was not swayed by any artistic preoccu- 

The sacred history as it was formed from these 
cuttings and these rough-and-ready sutures was 
unquestionably a badly executed and incoherent 
work, a compilation. It must be added that if the 
unifier had made his fusion more skilfully, we should 
no longer see the diversity of the sources. The 
plane would have effaced all these irregularities. 
The text would offer us a perfectly homogeneous 
surface upon which criticism would have had no 
hold, as is the case with the well-ordered work of 
the Greek historians. These great artists consider 
it an unpardonable fault to let the different cha- 
racters of their documents be visible. In the Hebraic 
work, upon the contrary, such as we have it, the 
fragments are seen in their entire and undigested 

* See vol. ii. p. 279, note. See also the essay of Messrs, 
Kautzscli and Socin (Freiburg in Lrisgau, 1888). 


form;* we are able to discover them again, and 
then, up to a certain point, compare them and so 
re-establish the primitive components. f The addi- 
tions and the modifications of the unifier appear to 
have been of trifling importance ; they are the most 
prominent in the history of Joseph. 

Therein resides the essential difference between 
the Greek and the Hebrew epos. The Greeks had 
genius even in compilation. Their Homer, despite 
more than one hiatus, is a prodigy of harmony. 
The sacred history of the Hebrews contains admi- 
rable pages, but it is laborious reading in the detail. 
The Middle Ages showed their good sense when 
they carved out of it subjects for their imageries 
and their moralities. The two component parts 
were masterpieces of simple and natural narrative; 
the unified text is a piece of marqueterie, a piecing 
together of badly mortised cuttings; a heap of 
diamonds cut with a yiew to a different arrange- 
ment of the stones. 

One cannot help asking whether, in order to 

* It is the same in some Greek compilations of the decadence, 
for instance, in the Chronicle of Antioch by John Malalas. 

f All the Oriental compilations are in this case. The last 
absorbs those that precede it, without assimilating them; so much 
so that the most recent compilation always has in its stomach, so 
to speak, morsels of previous works quite raw. Thus Mar Ibas 
Cadine is to be found whole in Moses of Khorenus ; Tabari was 
devoured by those who succeeded him; Firdussi has absorbed whole 
books of the earlier kings ; once he had the honesty to notify the 


arrange a sacred history which would advantageously 
have taken the place of the two parallel versions, the 
unifier had not some other documents of which he 
thought it necessary to take account in his work of 
harmonisation. We have seen that the Iahveist, in 
composing his book, had before him older writings, 
the patriarchal legends of the tribes of the North and 
the Iasar or book of the wars of Iahveh. It is almost 
certain that the unifier, and most of the learned 
men in Hezekiah's time, still possessed these two 
books ; in other words, that the Iahveist version had 
not made away with its sources of information, as 
has so often happened in history. We shall pre- 
sently have a proof of this in respect to the Iasar. 
As regards the patriarchal legends of the North, it 
is scarcely possible to doubt that the unifier had 
them in his hands at the same time as he had the 
Iahveist version. 

For it is a very remarkable fact that the unifier 
appears, in several instances, to reproduce the text 
of the patriarchal Legends of the North, even when 
he reproduces the Iahveist text. The Legends of 
the North, for instance, gave a narrative which was 
very much in favour with those who related patri- 
archal stories. Abraham, when sojourning with 
Abimelech, king of Gerar, was led to pass off his 
wife as his sister. This subject had furnished the 
Iahveist with two distinct narratives, one attributed 
to Abraham in Egypt the other to Isaac at Grerar. 
The unifier has borrowed these two narratives from 



the Iahveist,* but that was not enough for him. In 
the 20th chapter of Genesis he has preserved for us 
the primitive text of the Legends of the North. The 
same observation may be made with regard to several 
other episodes, specially as to the sacrifice of 
Isaac, the political economy of Joseph, the legends 
concerning Ishmael, Caleb, and the family of Moses. 
It may also be assumed that, in the portion called 
the Book of Numbers, f certain passages of the 
Iasar, or the Book of the Wars of Iahveh, which the 
Iahveist had passed over, were taken up by the 
unifier. The rôle of the latter, in short, did not 
consist simply in fusing two texts together; his 
task was a more complicated one ; being anxious 
to make a complete sweep of the older versions, he 
took care to transcribe into his own version all that 
seemed to be interesting. He knew that the book 
of the Legends of the North would not outlive the 
use he was putting it to, so he was determined to 
exhaust it, so to speak.J 

It is the law of Oriental history writing, in fact, 
that one book should annihilate its predecessor. 
The sources of a compilation rarely survive the 
compilation itself. A book in the East is rarely 
recopied just as it stands. It is brought up to date 
by the addition to it of what is known, or supposed 

* Genesis, ch. xii. and xxvi. 
t Ch. xxi. 

J This is especially noticeable in the narratives about Jacob. 
Genesis, ch. xxx. xxxi. For Ishmael, note Genesis, ch. xxi. v. 8-21, 


to be known, from other sources. The individuality 
of the historical book does not exist in the East ; it 
is the substance, not the form, which is held of im- 
portance, and no scruple is felt about mixing up 
authors and styles. The end sought is to be com- 
plete, and that is all. 

The volume which was the outcome of this work 
of unification formed about half of the existing 
Hexateuch. There were wanting Deuteronomy, all 
the Levitical laws, and several narratives of the 
life of Moses, which were repetitions of the narra- 
tives already adopted by the unifier, and which 
were afterwards borrowed from the Lives of the 
Prophets. It is owing to the preference given 
them by the unifier that these ancient stories of 
Israel have come down to posterity, and been the 
admiration of all ages. The Elohist text, never- 
theless, secured upon one point the most complete 
triumph. We do not know how the Iahveist text 
treated the narrative of the creation, but it was 
doubtless less beautiful and complete than that of 
the Elohist. This was what led the unifier to com- 
mence his work with the solemn page which served 
as a debut for the Elohist : " In the beginning, God 
created the heaven and the earth." As regards all 
the history of the origin of humanity, the unifier 
preserves the framework of the Elohist, introducing 
into it long fragments of the Iahveist, so that we 
may say that the first pages of the Elohist, up to 
the appearance of Abraham upon the scene, have 

B 2 


been preserved to us in their entirety. The six 
first Elohist fragments, indeed, if made to follow 
one another, form a continuous narrative, which is 
not the case with the Iahveist fragments, between 
which considerable gaps may clearly be perceived. 
It seems that in the mind of the unifier, the Elohist 
version had a- certain preference as a peculiarly 
Jewish and Jerusalemite version, his plan being to 
complete it by means of the other version, only it 
happened that the supplements exceeded in extent 
and importance the text which he was intent upon 

The legislative part was represented, in the uni- 
fied text, by the Book of the Alliance preserved in 
its integrity, and by the Decalogue as it is in 
Exodus. It is assuredly not impossible that some 
of the prescriptions introduced by the formula, 
" And God said unto Moses," which now form part 
of the Levitical prescriptions, were already in 
existence. It is probable that the temple had, from 
an early period, its written rules. The code of the 
lepers,* the list of the things which are impure,f 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xxiv. v. 8, refers to a code of the lepers 
which, as a matter of fact, may be found in ch. xiii. and xiv. of 

f Of the two lists of impure things given in Leviticus xi. and 
Deuteronomy xiv. that of Leviticus is the older and the more 
simple. It is likely that in a list of this kind that prohibitions 
calculated to raise a smile may have been omitted ; it is less likely 
that there should have been added the names of unclean animals 
which no one, at a more or less civilised epoch, would be tempted 
to eat. 


perhaps the code of the sacrifices,* the articles 
upon the offerings, the vows and the legal impu- 
rities ; but these small codes formed pamphlets 
apart, not fused in sacred history. They were 
only collated later, doubtless after the captivity, to 
form the body of laws which may be called Levi- 
tical.f In fine, the first fifteen chapters of Levi- 
ticus, together with the twenty-seventh, % may very 
possibly have been in existence, at all events as to 
their substance, in the time of the ancient temple. 
At a later date these sacerdotal prescriptions must 
have been utilised anew by adapting them to the 
time of the restoration, and warping them by strange 
hypotheses, such as the Levitical cities, the ohel 
mo'èd. Those who were animated by a lofty reli- 
gious sentiment, like Isaiah, were not at all inclined 
towards ritualist practices. But this was not the 
case with everybody. Piety, as a rule, impels 
people to be scrupulous in their observance of 
forms and ceremonies. When the scoffers, in order 

* Leviticus i.-vii. It seems, nevertheless, as if this small treatise 
on sacrifices refers to a state of worship posterior to that brought 
out by Deuteronomy. As to the heterogeneous combinations, and 
as to some other points in which Leviticus appears to be anterior to 
Deuteronomy, see below, p. 213, note 2, and p. 232, note 1. 

j* These Pandects are disseminated from Exodus xxiv. to 
Numbers xx., absorbing the whole of Leviticus. Several chapters 
of this part of the Pentateuch are old ; but large additions were 
made to it after the restoration of worship following upon the 
return from captivity. 

\ All the passages in which the Deuteronomy seems to be based 
upoD anterior Levitical texts are to be found in these chapters. 


to make much of the prophets, went about repeat- 
ing wherever they met them in a nasal tone, " Qav 
laqav, sav lasav ,: (precept upon precept, line upon 
line),* they marked the commencement of the 
ritualist casuistry, which was destined in the end 
to consume Israel. A constantly-repeated saying 
was — 

For out of Sion shall go forth the law, 
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.f 

The password of the prophets was Iahvé meho* 
qênou " (Iahveh is our lawgiver) . { The tendency of 
mind which will make itself man if eat a century later 
in Deuteronomy was already in germ in the school 
of Isaiah. In addition to the Book of the Alliance, 
some parts of which had grown old, and the 
Decalogue, always young, there were, perhaps, 
small Thoras, if I may so call them, such as the 
15th Psalm, § in which were enumerated in a few 
telling lines the duties of the servant of Iahveh. 
Isaiah was very partial to resumes of this kind. || 
There was no consecrated text or stereotyped ver- 
sion for these commandments of God, but the sub- 
stance was always the same ; and when " the law 
of God " was mentioned everybody knew what was 
meant. We shall see further on how this legis- 
lative nucleus underwent enormous developments; 

* Isaiah, ch. xxviii. v. 10. 

f Isaiah, ch. ii. v. 3 ; and Micah, chap. iv. v. 3. 

\ Isaiah, ch. xxxiii. v. 22. 

§ Compare Psalm ci. , 

| Isaiah, ch. xxxi.i. v. 15. 


and how, thanks to successive additions, the book 
of the sacred legends, having become in the main a 
book of laws, eventually, by a far-fetched substitu- 
tion, got to be called the Tbora. 

It may be admitted that the ancient book, in 
the time of Hezekiah, ended with the hymn attri- 
buted to Moses which now forms chapter xxxii. of 
Deuteronomy, a passage the rhetoric of which 
recalls that of the prophets of the classic epoch. 
One sole idea pervades it : the happiness or the 
misfortunes of Israel will always be in proportion 
to their fidelity to the law of Iahveh. This passage 
\ eems to have originated in the kingdom of the 
North, and we seem to find the echo of it in Hosea 
and Isaiah. It is doubtful, however, whether it 
had a place in the Iahveist version. It is a speci- 
men, and there were no doubt many others, of these 
sporadic fragments which the unifier utilised con- 
currently with more extensive documents. Science 
cannot pretend, in such difficult matters as this, to 
indicate more than the general outline. Much 
indulgence is due to the savants who were the first 
to wear out their eyesight in this work. Those 
who deciphered the papyri of Herculaneum had 
not a more difficult task. In these small calcined 
blocks all the letters were visible; but the pages 
were so embedded and stuck together, that it was 
impossible to say if such and such a letter belonged 
to this page or that. By careful and patient un- 
rolling, something like order was introduced into 


what appeared to be utter confusion. The modern 
hypotheses as to the composition of the Hexateuch 
have been sometimes condemned as being too com- 
plicated. The probability is that they are not 
sufficiently so, and that there are in the reality a 
number of special incidents which have escaped us. 
The simple hypotheses are nearly always false, and, 
if we could see the facts as they actually occurred, 
we should recognise that, upon a number of points, 
we had conceived things as taking place in a much 
more regular order than they really did* 




The reign of Hezekiah was an epoch of great lite- 
rary activity ; it may, indeed, be called the classic 
epoch of Hebrew literature. Each human develop- 
ment has, in this way, its hour of perfect harmony, 
in which all the parts of the national genius sound 
their highest note in unison. The Hebrew language 
attained perfection. Besides Isaiah and his school, 
who were in full possession of the tradition of 
ancient eloquence, many writers of rare talent kept 
up the standard of the language and produced 
masterpieces by its use. A body of men, who were 
afterwards styled "the men of Hezekiah,"* sprang 
up around the king, bent mainly upon making 
extracts and compilations ; f but they formed, no 
doubt, as well a sort of literary academy, in which 
style was the chief object of concern. The king 
himself cultivated with success lyrical and parabolic 

* rvpin TOK, Proverbs, ch. xxv. v. 1. 
| It is the meaning of the word IjTnjJn- 


poetry.* The rapid decline which was observed in 
the course of a century, from Isaiah to Jeremiah, in 
the style of writing Hebrew shows that this was 
one of those epochs during which, in order to pre- 
serve the language, certain precautions, a sort of 
State supervision, were necessary. 

Writing had become quite a common usage in 
Judasa. The judicial decisions were given in writ- 
ing,! people were proud to wear them affixed to 
the shoulder when they were favourable. | The 
specimen we possess of the writing in Jerusalem 
eight centuries b.c. § shows us characters already 
more or less the worse for wear, with a good many 
of curves in them and a running hand. The sub- 
stance used was probably the prepared papyrus, or 
charta, imported from Egypt. The form of the 
book or of the more or less lengthy document 
(sêpher) was the roll. || 

The time when writing thus becomes very 
common, and when the substance used for writing 
upon ceases to be expensive, is nearly always an 
important literary epoch. A number of topics 
which had not yet been definitely fixed are put into 
concrete form, and matters for which oral tradition 

* Isaiah, ch. xxxviii. v. 10 and following. 

■f Isaiah, ch. x. v. 1. 

J Job, ch. xxxi. v. 36. 

§ Inscription of Siloé. See vol. ii. p. 509, note 6. 

| The word nbj?0 does not occur before Jermiah, ch. xxxvi. v. 2 
and following. The passage in Psalm xl. v. 8 is doubtful. Sep- 
tante : XÛPTVÇi \apTiov. 


had so far sufficed are codified. It is the period for 
compilations and collections. In the East, as I 
have said, to recopy is as a rule to do a thing 
anew. Most of the documents of the ancient 
Hebraic literature thus underwent, in or about the 
time of Hezekiah, very thorough remodelling. 

Many of the lettered men from the North had 
taken refuge in Jerusalem after the destruction of 
the kingdom of Israel. They brought with them 
texts of great literary beauty, scarcely known in 
Judah. The work to be done was to perpetuate 
all this part of the tradition, which was in a fair 
way of being lost. We have seen the process that 
occurred in regard to sacred history. The com- 
bined narrative stopped, like the two separate 
narratives, at the supposed conquest of Palestine 
by Joshua and at the division of the land among 
the tribes. This history had an essentially religious 
character, and it always kept its own separate frame- 
work. But a very natural curiosity caused several 
reflecting persons to desire to know what happened 
afterwards. From the conquest of Palestine to the 
establishment of royalty there was a long interval, 
during which Israel had only intermittent sofetim ; 
this was the heroic age of the nation, the commence- 
ment of history properly so called. The Iasar or 
book of the wars of Iahveh coutained invaluable 
information as to these times, songs of a very pri- 
mitive kind, adventures of rare and singular in- 
terest. Retailed from a profane point of view, and 


without any aim at edification, these old stories had 
a charm which captivated the whole world. They 
had merely to be taken out of the collection. This 
was what the author of the Book of Judges did. 
He touched up but very slightly the text as he 
found it,* only added the reflections required to 
show the misfortunes of the people as the conse- 
quence of their unfaithfulness, and doubtless cut 
out but very little. Thus we have acquired a real 
treasure, a text of the ninth or tenth century b.c. 
still to be traced athwart the corrections of later 

The narratives of the wars of Iahveh and the 
songs of Iasar extended, in my opinion, down to the 
final accession of David to the royalty of Jerusalem. 
These narratives of the time of Saul and of the 
youth of David formed the groundwork of the so- 
called Books of Samuel, but in this case elements 
of other origin have been mixed or added : upon 
the one hand pieces and fragments of mazkirim of 
David's time ; upon the other pages of little value 
drawn from the lives of the prophets and from 
entirely legendary writings. 

In this way the essential parts of the great 

narrative compositions of the tenth century entered 

into more recent compositions. The Iasar, the 

wars of Iahveh, the patriarchal legends of the 

North were cut up, so to speak, to suit more 

* First of all, no doubt, many stories, like that of Sampson, had 
leen modified. 


modern arrangements of the facts. In ancient 
times, a literature put to use in this way not only 
was not made a copy of, but rapidly disappeared. 
It was considered to have done its share towards 
the common work, and no further attention was 
bestowed upon it ; thus the ancient books of the 
North perished while in the heyday of their suc- 
cess. It may be that this exquisite literature 
inspired the lettered men in Hezekiah's reign with 
a few imitations. The charming book of Ruth has 
come down to us as a doubtful remnant of the 
idyllic literature which dated the ideal age of all 
poesy from the time of the Judges.* 

For the epoch of Solomon, Rehoboam, Jeroboam, 
and their successors there were extant trustworthy 
annals from which was drawn a history of the 
kings of Judah and of Israel, which was continued 
up to date. Hence we have those Books of the 
Kings, which assuredly had not in Hezekiah's time 
the dry and scanty aspect they now bear. After 
the captivity, a clumsy abbreviator, connected 
closely with Baruch and Jeremiah's school, com- 
posed by cuttings the book which we now possess — 
a poor extract, carried out in a most partial spirit 
from a vast mass of documents, and mixed up with 
weak parts borrowed from the prophetic agadas. 

From Hezekiah's time probably commenced those 
lives of the prophets which were intimately con- 

* The book is certainly Judaic; it gives the idea of Sacred 
History as being in the state which it is at present (ch. iv. v. 11). 


nected with the history of the kings. Certain nar- 
ratives concerning Elijah and Elisha have a grandeur 
which brings them very close to the most striking 
pages of the Iahveist; others, upon the contrary, 
contain exaggerated, puerile, and almost odious 
details, introduced, no doubt, at the epoch when it 
was the custom to imagine the prophets confounding 
the kings and dominating the people by fear. The 
prophecy of Elijah and Elisha was of so grand a 
character that the idea of their being schismatics 
never suggested itself at Jerusalem. 

The literary work of the " Men of Hezekiah " 
assumed several different characteristics. One of 
the kinds most in favour with Semitic people of all 
epochs was that of the mesalim, proverbs, maxims 
expressed in a terse form, small fragments of an 
enigmatic and far-fetched turn. It is a constant 
practice with literature of this order that a real or 
imaginary personage, celebrated rightly or wrongly 
for his wisdom, should get the credit of all the 
anonymous sayings and centralise the maxims of 
the most divergent ages. Among the Hebrews, from 
the time of Hezekiah, it was Solomon who played 
this part of the paremiographical and gnomical 
author. The Men of Hezekiah compiled a collection 
of proverbs, which were, even at that period, attri- 
buted to the son of David,* and supplemented them 

* Proverbs, ch. xxv. and following. The other two collections 
(i. and following; x. and following) appear to be npt so old. The 
repetitions which exist between the collection of the Men of Hezekiah 


with several other small collections of very ancient 
wisdom, attributed to enigmatic personages — 
Lemuel,* Agur, and Ithiel.t There, too, is found 
the charming alphabetical poem of the Strong 
Woman, a little chef-d'œuvre which is only paral- 
leled by the portrait of the foolish woman. $ 

The spirit of poems like these is often more than 
half profane. It was almost that of free philo- 
sophy. Yet God is therein spoken of as Iahveh.§ 
A sort of compromise had been arrived at between 
Iahveh and the wisdom common to all the nations. 
Religion had not as yet enfolded man completely ; 
the view of the world had not been intercepted ; 
fanaticism scarcely existed, or at all events did not 
prevent the individual exercise of the mind 

This sort of profane culture was not, moreover, 
an isolated fact in the Semitic East. The tribes 

and the collection ch. x. and following forbid the supposition that 
the Men of Hezekiah merely continued the collection x. and 

* This name is probably symbolical. See vol. ii. p. 440-441, 
note. Possibly bfcOD^ is a mistake for ^fcOD^j the "disciple of El " 
Compare nifV **]£h, Isaiah, ch. viii. v. 16 ; ch. 1. v. 4 ; ch. liv. v. 13. 
See, however, Genesis, ch. xlvi. v. 10, and Numbers, ch. xxvi. 
v. 12 {lamed abbreviated becoming iod). 

■f Agour-ben lake (Proverbs, xxx. v. i,) is also symbolical. 
^fcOIVNb repeated by dittography is probably a gloss introduced 
into the text. Ithiel would in that case be the author's true name. 

\ Proverbs, ch. ix. v. 13-18. 

§ miT 1 is used in all parts of the Proverbs, even in Agur and the 
Virtuous Woman. D*BHp (the Saints), for God, occurs twice in the 
Proverbs (ch. ix v. 10; ch. xxx. v. 3). Compare Hosea, ch. xii, 
v. 1. 


bordering upon Palestine, such as the Beni-Kedem 
or the Orientals, shared the same philosophy.* The 
Idumean tribe of Teman, more especially, was cele- 
brated for its wise men.f The place occupied by 
king Lemuel or Libbudel,{ the opening fragment 
of whose gnomical poem we are supposed to possess, 
is not, in all probability, to be sought for in an 
Arab or Aramean dynasty any more than it was in 
the series of Palestinean kings. It seems, never- 
theless, that there was a kind of intellectual culture, 
finding expression in parabolic form, of which the 
Jewish people alone have transmitted to us the 
recollection, but which was not exclusively its own. 
It is even possible that, among the monuments of 
Hebraic wisdom, is to be found more than one frag- 
ment of the wisdom of the neighbouring tribes, 
characterised, like that of Israel, by the sententious 
form, the parallelism, and the fanciful fashion of 
beginning each strophe with the letters of the 
alphabet in their Cadmean order. § 

An extraordinary book has been preserved to us 
as the expression of that one period during which, 
despite the burden of their religious vocation, Israel 

* I. Kings, ch. v. v. 10. 

f Jeremiah, ch. xlix. v. 7; Obadiah, ch. ix. ; Baruch, chap, 
iii. v. 22-28. Compare Job, chap. xv. v. 10, 18, 19. 

J Proverbs, ch. xxxi. v. 1-9. The idea that that massa (Pro- 
verbs, ch. xxx and xxxi. v. 1) might have been an Arab kingdom 
is a most improbable one. 

§ The short poem of the Strong or Virtuous Woman and Psalm 
xxxvii. (rather old) are among the first which are notable for this. 


raised their eyes boldly to heaven.* The book of 
Job is one of the most astonishing monuments 
of the human mind handed down to us by the past. 
This admirable composition, which was assuredly 
written by an Israelite, but which might just as 
well have been the work either of a Temanite or of 
a Saracen,t stands out upon the summit of the two 
slopes of the Hebrew genius, that which rises and 
that which descends. It treats of the question 
which lies at the very heart of Judaism. It is the 
Hebrew book par excellence, and, what shows how 
free and large-minded was the age of which Heze- 
kiah is the centre, it is quite a book of philosophy ; 
it does not teach, it discusses. 

How comes it that, under the empire of a just 
God, the wicked often succeeds, while the just man 
is often overwhelmed by undeserved misfortunes ? 
This question was for the Israelite a capital one. It 

* The literary equivalents of the book of Job are : Amos, Joel, 
Hosea, Isaiah, the Song of Hezekiah, and the Psalms of the 
anavim. See below, p. 130 and following. It would seem as if 
the book had been composed by an anav. Compare also Isaiah, 
ch. xix. v. 5, and Job. ch. xiv. v. 11. For further details, see the 
essay prefacing my translation of the Book of Job. (Paris, Levy, 

I The care taken not to use the word Iahveh in the philo- 
sophical discussion clearly implies that Job and his friends are, in 
the eyes of the author, strangers to Iahveism. In the same way the 
sacred narrators avoid putting the name of Iahveh in the mouth of 
the non-Israelites, and the Elohist narrator keeps from using this 
name up to the revelation of Sinai. The book of Job and the 
sapiential books also avoid the use of Sabaoth. 



may be said that the struggle against this autonomy 
is the entire history of Judaism. The history of 
Judaism is a long effort of 600 years to arrive at the 
solutions which belief in the immortality of the indi- 
vidual furnished first of all to the Aryan races. More 
advanced in certain respects than the other peoples, 
the Beni-Israel saw very clearly that the rewards 
and punishments of the other world are a vain 
thing devoid of reality. It is within the circle of 
real life that must be sought the equilibrium of 
supreme justice. Set out in this way, the problem 
is absolutely insoluble, or rather it implies a false 
major, viz. that the world is governed by a clear 
and determined conscience, by a reflecting Pro- 
vidence, careful of doing justice to the individual. 
The exaggeration of the dogma of Providence 
is the great error of Judaism and of Islam. If 
Iahveh is the just God par excellence, and if every- 
thing which occurs in r the world is done by Iahveh, 
or at least with His knowledge, it is necessary that 
the final liquidation of accounts between the Creator 
and his creature should result in an exact balance 
between merit and reward. Crime and punishment 
are synonymous. He who has sown good things 
will reap good things ; he who has sown evil things 
will reap evil things.* What can be more opposed 
to the daily experience of the facts of this world ? 
Eliphaz seeks in vain for a reply to the objection 

* Rosea, ch. viii. v. 7; ch. x. v. 13; Job, passirp,. See vol. i. 
. K»2. 


of those who say, "How doth God know?"* A 
more extensive knowledge of the universe, ard 
above all the habit of distinguishing between con- 
scious and unconscious reason, have almost sup- 
pressed for us, leaving in the place a fearful, gaping 
wound, the problem which perplexed these wise 
men of old.. There was not a cure, but an extir- 
pation, and the extirpation will perhaps be mortal 
for humanity. For the Hebrew, to whom the idea 
of the infinity of the universe was unknown, and 
who had not the least notion of the inconscience of 
supreme reason, the situation was an inextricable 
one. Up to a certain point it was tenable for the 
prophets — for Isaiah, to take an instance — consider- 
ing, as they did, only the race and the nation, 
being content for the ordinary current of affairs 
with a summary kind of justice, and living in the 
expectation of a day of absolute reparation, when 
all the things distorted by man would be put 
straight. The fall of the kingdom of the North 
was explained by the fact that it had not followed 
a sufficiently pure Iahveismf; but it was difficult to 
prove that, in these terrible Assyrian inroads, there 
was the shadow of a discernment between the just 
and the unjust. Poor Hezekiah, good man as he 
was, passed his life, at all events previous to the 
catastrophe of Sennacherib, like a bird upon a 
twig, watching to catch the direction of the wind. 

* Job, ch. xxii. v. 13-14. 
\ 2 Kings, ch. xvii. 



And what, above all, is to be said of divine justice 
in regard to individuals ? Not only is virtue here 
below not rewarded ; one may almost say that it is 
punished. It is baseness which is rewarded ; the 
advantages are all upon its side ; otherwise the 
sharp-witted would turn their backs upon it. 
Heroic virtue — the virtue even unto death — finds 
in its very heroism the exclusion from all possible 

Thus we see the problem of morality, of virtue, 
of duty stated, even in the eighth century b.c., in 
the most absolute form. The author of the book 
of Job does not solve it, and no wonder. Kant 
solves it by suppressing it; the categorical impe- 
rative, which is his Iahveh, breaks his word to man 
in the most discreditable manner. The extreme 
concern which Israel shows for the honour of his 
Grod does not permit of his believing Him capable 
of such a failure. Hqnce arises an endless struggle 
against reality. 

The excellence of the book of Job consists in its 
representing this struggle in a framework of admir- 
able grandeur. A man without reproach is struck 
down by misfortunes which are all due to fatalities 
of nature or of humanity, but which, according to 
the idea of the day, are attributed to the direct 
action of Iahveh. Job submits to the divine will, 
but curses the condition of humanity exposed to 
such trials. Less enlightened than he, his three 
friends, more especially Eliphaz, who belonged to 


the school of the wise men of Teman, seek to dis- 
cover the cause of his misfortunes, and think they 
have found that it resides in secret sins he mu£t 
have committed. The human conscience is so 
obscure ! No one can tell if he deserves love or 
hatred. One is often impure in the eyes of God 
without being aware of the fact. Job, who is cer- 
tain of his innocence, protests, and, in order to 
defend himself, is tempted to strong utterances 
which seem to incriminate the justice of God. His 
friends regard him as impious.* Iahveh then ap- 
pears upon the whirlwind, and, reproaching Job's 
friends for their hardness and Job for his rashness, 
crushes the pride of the man who pretends to under- 
stand anything of the works of God. Job humbles 
himself ; God re-establishes him in his former state 
and doubles his former blessings ; instead of seven 
sons, he has fourteen ; instead of three thousand 
camels, he has six ; and he dies old and full of 

The stroke of genius in this poem is the inde- 
cision of the author, in a subject where indecision 
is the truth. All possible solutions are attempted 
by the different speakers ; no one is definitely 
selected. At one time justice is considered to re- 
side in the totality of the tribe ; at another the 
family is the unity which explains everything. A 

* The speech of Elihu (ch. xxxii.-xxxvii.) is certainly an inter- 
polation. It is, moreover, an insignificant fragment, with no 
doctrinal importance. 


wicked man may prosper, it is true ; but his chil- 
dren are little thought of after him ; the ill-acquired 
riches of their father are drawn from their belly 
with hooks. To which Job replies that this is of 
very little importance, for in hell there is neither 
feeling, nor sight, nor memory/* 

It may eyen be doubted whether the author is 
entirely satisfied with the dénoument which he has 
chosen. But this dénoument is quite that which the 
Hebraic conception required. The book of Tobias, 
the companion one to that of Job, at an interval of 
eight centuries, does not go beyond the same solu- 
tion, f Tobias is struck with blindness while per- 
forming a pious act, so that the case is still more 
strange than that of Job. Tobias is firm in his trust 
in God. He is healed, he lives to a great age, sees his 
children well provided for, and Nineveh, the enemy 
of his people, brought to ruin. What could he 
desire more? Judith J£ also rewarded by living to 
the age of 120, and by dying surrounded by honour, 
amid her people, which has been saved and made 
happy by her. J The misfortunes which befall 
Iahveh's faithful servants are a passing trial. Iahveh 
owes it to himself to extricate them, and even to 
compensate them for their sufferings. This com- 
pensation always occurs in this life. Death has 
nothing of which man can complain when he dies 

* Job, ch. xiv. v. 21-22. 

| Hist, des orig. du Christ., vol vi. p. 228-237. 

J Hist, des orig. du Christ., vol. v. p. 29 and following. 


old, leaving behind him a numerous family to keep 
his name alive. 

This childish theory was day by day more shaken; 
another six centuries and many martyrs were needed 
for Israel to get quit of those two irreconcilable 
dogmas, " God is just ; man is but a fleeting 
shadow," by means of the desperate expedient of 
the resurrection and of the millennium.* Ancient 
Israel never admitted the idea of absolute immor- 
tality ; that would have been to make a man a god. 
A thousand years is really a very long time, and 
assuredly a martyr who had lived for that period, 
in the midst of a Jerusalem which has become the 
capital of the world, ought to be satisfied. 

It is in the book of Job that the force, the 
beauty, the depth of the Hebrew genius are seen 
at their best. The Pentateuch, Isaiah, the Psalms 
have all exercised a greater influence upon the 
world. Job has excited surprise and terror; the 
Middle Ages did not dare to translate it;t it is 
astonishing that it should have been allowed to 
remain among the canon books. If the Song of 
Songs proves that Israel was young in his day, 
the book of Job proves also that in his day he 
displayed great freedom of thought. No doubt the 
limits of the philosophical development which was 

* This is what I shall explain in vol. iv. if I have life and 
strength to write it. See Hist, des orig. du Christ., vol. i. p. 56-57, 
290 and following; vol. ii. p. 97-98; vol. iii. p. 196-197,879, 
413, 529-530; vol. iv, p. 446-447, 468. 

■f See Guyart des Moulins, Histoire Littéraire de la France, vol. 
xxviii. p. 449. 


capable of emerging from such a condition of mind 
are clearly denned. The immensity of the God of 
Job did not admit of the whole cosmos beino: em- 
braced. The analytic study of the reality was 
impossible under the sway of such a master. The 
fundamental theory of our system of the world, 
the fixity of the laws of nature, could not be con- 
ciliated with so absolute a will, extending to all 
the details of the universe. The author of the 
book of Job, had he lived thousands of years, 
would never have arrived at science as conceived 
by the Greeks and as definitely created by modern 
genius. But he would have arrived at a very 
refined philosophy. He would have felt the neces- 
sity of introducing distinctions into his haughty 
and trenchant affirmations. He would have seen 
that an Iahveh, as he imagines Him, could not be 
just ; that things do not happen at all as he 
imagines them; that «no special will governs the 
world, and that what happens is the result of a 
blind effort tending upon the whole towards good. 

From this fresh point of view he would have 
understood that no man has ever been, like his 
hero, the butt of systematic blows from fate ; that 
Job is very wrong to curse the day he was born, 
inasmuch as this day has been for him the cause of 
more good than evil ; that God no more took his 
riches away from him than He gave them to him ; 
and, in short, that to close the mouths of his super- 
ficial friends he had only one observation to make, 


viz., that moral evil exercises no appreciable 
action upon the course of physical facts, so much 
so, that in the name of morality itself all idea of 
reward and punishments should be dismissed from 
the order of contingent facts. Justice would have 
appeared to him as a thing in the future ; he would 
have seen that it makes default in the present, that 
it is the slow work of reason, not a sort of immanent 
law of the world. This intelligent Israelite would, 
in the seventeenth century, have been Spinoza ; in 
our day he would have been one of those Jews, 
lovers of the truth, who resign themselves to the 
tardy coming of the kingdom of justice, knowing 
very well that the impatience of man will do 
nothing to advance its progress. In reality, the 
beni-elohim are right ; the creation is good, and 
does great credit to the Almighty ; the objections 
of Satan against the work of God are quite out of 
place, but thousands of millions of years will pro- 
bably have to elapse before the just God is a 
reality. Let us wait. 

The work accomplished under Hezekiah con- 
sisted, in the main, as we have seen, in saving 
from among the wreck of the kingdom of Israel the 
Hebrew texts written in the North. Was the book 
of Job among the number, and is its breadth of 
tone the outcome of the purer air which was 
breathed by the tribes which had remained in 
closer contact with the nomad life ? That is quite 
possible. At the same time, another work, the 


Israelite origin of which can with greater certainty 
be affirmed, is the Song of Songs.* This charming 
poem was assuredly conceived in the North. The 
opposition of Jerusalem and of Tirzah,t capital of 
the kingdom of Israel before Samaria, and also the 
almost ridiculous part assigned to Solomon in it, 
would be sufficient to prove this. At all marriages 
it was customary to recite and to sing love dia- 
logues, the theme of which, varied by means of 
different episodes, always harped upon the same 
string ; a young shepherdess of the North, carried 
off by the men who supplied Solomon's harem, 
remains true to her lover despite the seductions of 
the court. All the scenes which went to represent 
this one idea wound up with the same tableau, the 
young girl asleep in the arms of her lover. :£ This 
was all known by heart ; the plan of the work 
being very elastic, and the prosody of certain frag- 
ments not being hard and fast, any changes which 
might be desired were easily made, as is the case 
with the Italian improvisatore. After the destruc- 
tion of the kingdom of Israel there was every 
reason to fear that such a scenario mi^ht be lost. 
I am quite prepared to admit that the Sir has- 
girim was written first of all by the men of letters 
in Hezekiah's reign, without being certain that the 

* See the notice heading my translation (Paris, Levy, 1860). 
t Solomon's Song, ch. vi. v. 4. 

J It was what was called rt?2 ^1p1 \r\H bip, Jeremiah, ch. vii. v 
34; ch. xvi. v. 9 ; ch. xxv. v. 10. 


very defective text which we possess is the one 
which was then fixed by the Kalam. 

A style which was, upon the contrary, peculiar 
to Jerusalem began to develop very fast under 
Hezekiah. The sir, or song, was as old as the 
Semitic peoples themselves ; but the ancient ages, 
with little mysticism about them, had quite over- 
looked the refinements which can be imported into 
the modulation of sentiment. About the time of 
Hezekiah, the sir became diversified ad infinitum. 
It was no longer, as formerly, the poetic echo of an 
external fact ; it is the meditation of the soul upon 
the situation to which it finds itself brought by the 
injustice of man and by its own weakness. Thus 
the sir had a great resemblance to the masal, and it 
was sometimes difficult to discern the one from the 
other. The short poem of this kind was called 
mizmor, and it generally had a musical accompani- 
ment. It is doubtful whether, in the time of Heze- 
kiah, the mizmor had its place in the liturgy ; but 
the tendency was already in this direction. Even 
thus early many pious men would have liked the 
sacrifice to have been abolished, and replaced by 
praise (toda). In any event the mizmor, sung upon 
one of the varieties of the lyre or the guitar (nebel, 
cinnor, negina), was the manner of speaking to 
God, of holding converse with Him. We shall find 
Hezekiah praying to Him in this manner. It is in 
the following generation that the mizmor will pro- 
duce its masterpieces ; yet it is already flourishing 


in the time of which I am writing. In two or 
three instances, Isaiah expresses himself after the 
manner of an accomplished psalmist.* 

Then was inaugurated the psalm, perhaps the 
most beautiful and certainly the most fruitful crea- 
tion of the genius of Israel. The ancient prayer, 
accompanied by dances and by shouts, to attract 
the attention of the god, took rank among the 
ridiculous conceptions of a gross and uninstructed 
age. The prayer of the heart came into being. 
The sober and steady pietism of the anavim showed 
in this its great originality. From a style coldly 
patriotic and starchly official, it created the pure 
hymn ; from a confused noise it evolved a harmo- 
nious lyre, adapting itself to all the subjective 
effusions of a soul bruised by the rigours of life. 
The pious man had, henceforth, a consolation, an 
alibi, in the midst of his troubles ; a private chapel 
in which he could indulge in secret dialogues with 
his benevolent Creator. Before being too hard 
upon these dreams of the past, we must bear in 
mind to what a marvellous use the Church has 
succeeded in putting the music of the Psalms, and 
reckon up the number of good and gentle spirits 
whom the harp of Israel has consoled. 

With regard to the question whether, from the 

reign of Hezekiah, the collection into one book of the 

lyrical pieces dating from earlier epochs was begun, 

it may be said that this would have been in con- 

* Isaiah, ch. xii. v. 1 and following ; v. 4 and following. 


formity with the spirit of the age, and the academy 
of Hezekiah would have found therein a natural 
outlet for its activity. But such a selection, had it 
been made, would have come down to us, in a sepa- 
rate form, in the general collection of the Psalms, 
as was the case with the Proverbs. But none of 
the five books which now compose the Psalms can 
be the collection which might have been formed in 
Hezekiah' s time. 

The phrase, " the age of Hezekiah," would not be 
out of place to designate the remarkable literary 
ensemble which the Hebrew genius produced to- 
wards the close of the eighth and the beginning of 
the seventh century b. c. Usage, led astray by the 
false chronological ideas of orthodox criticism, has 
not adopted it. Such an expression would imply, 
moreover, in this petty world of Palestine, an am- 
plitude of life to which Greece, Italy, and modern 
Europe have alone attained. There were powerful 
causes at work to prevent the framework of Israelite 
society from becoming, like Greece, the complete 
model of a civilised society. All-powerful Assyria 
placed Palestine in the same position in which 
Hellas would have been if Persia had conquered 
her two hundred years later. The much more 
general use of writing gave to the Syria of the 
eighth century an enormous start against the 
Greece of that time ;* but civic freedom has advan- 

* About 700 b.c. only certain islands of Greece used the Cad- 
mean alphabet. 


tages for which nothing can make up. The Greek 
genius, enfolded as it was within the narrow circle 
of Homer's and Hesiod's songs, already gave indi- 
cations of being more comprehensive, more exten- 
sive, more laic, if I may so say. The Greek genius 
will prevail in the intellectual, philosophical, and 
political order; but religious and social questions 
will be outside the radius of its childlike serenity. 
Isaiah planted the standard of the religion of the 
future ere Solon and Thaïes of Miletus had been 
born. People were athirst for justice in Jeru- 
salem when at Athens and at Sparta no protest was 
raised against slavery, when the Greek conscience, 
in any embarrassing conjuncture, is satisfied with 
the peremptory reason : Aios S' èreXeUro fîovXij. 




The Assyrian sway was a purely military one, and 
the work of the conquest stood constantly in need 
of being done over again. The passage of the 
armies was not followed, as in the case of the 
dominion of Rome, by a kind of administrative and 
civil conquest. Sargon, who at the beginning of 
his reign had appeared so terrible to Syria, was 
little heard of during the fifteen following years. 

The clouds which obscured the close of his reign * 
seemed to encourage the revolt. Hezekiah ceased 
paying tribute, t and thus broke the bonds of vas- 
saldom which attached him to Nineveh. At the 
same time he opened up negotiations with Egypt, 
more especially with Ethiopia, which was at that 
time at the height J of its power, and which main- 
tained very regular relations with Syria. 

* Maspero, Histoire Ancienne, p. 431-432, 4th edition. 

f 2 Kings, ch. xviii. v. 7. 

J Isaiah, ch. xviii., implying a wonderful knowledge of Central 
Africa. Compare Maspero's Histoire Ancienne, p. 410 and follow- 


It seems that in all this Hezekiah followed the 
advice of Shebna,* who had, as it appears, preserved 
his credit at court under another name.f Isaiah 
continued his intrigues and declamations against 
him, and the manifesto in which Jerusalem is de- 
signated by the symbolic name of Ariel { may be 
attributed to this period. 

Ariel will be crushed in a year by the serried 
masses which are drawing near to it. That will be 
its own fault ; Ariel does not hearken to the pro- 
phets, practising only the external forms of worship, 
and no one thinking of the true worship, which is 
that of the heart. Justice is not truly rendered. § 

Ethiopia has sent messengers into Judasa, but 
the prophet protests against their being listened to. 
So long as Iahveh wills it so the Assyrians will 
prevail. When it is Iahveh' s pleasure the Assyrians 
will be crushed; their corpses will cover Judsea and 
be a prey to the birds. Then the Ethiopians will 
return to make offerings to Iahveh. || The triumph 
of the anavim and of the ehionim will be complete. 

* See above, p. 9 and following. 

\ In Isaiah, ch. xxii. v. 15, Shebna is sohen, in other passages 
he is only sopher. 

J Isaiah, ch. xxix. The passage in Isaiah, from ch. xvii. v. 12 
to ch. xviii. v. 7, appears to refer to the same state of things. 

§ Isaiah, ch. xxix. v. 13-15. 

| It is remarkable that the Ethiopians are always represented by 
the prophets as having a propensity for the worship of Iahveh, and 
that they for this reason were treated more favourably than the 
other go'im. 


This will be the end of the reign of the violent 
(anavim), of the scoffers (lêcim), of the nnjust judges, 
of the perverters of right. Those who have gone 
astray will return to wisdom ; the rebellious will 
submit themselves to instruction. 

The assassination of Sargon in his palace at Khor- 
sabad, about 704 b.c., served to further accentuate 
in the provinces the tendency to revolt against the 
Ninevite power. Sennacherib, the son and succes- 
sor of Sargon, had to reconquer nearly the whole 
of what his father had held by force.* Blulœus, 
king of Sidon, refused to pay the tribute, and his 
example was followed by the king of Ascalon. The 
inhabitants of Ekron, discontented with Padi,f 
whom Sargon had given them for king, seized him 
and sent him captive to Hezekiah. This was 
equivalent to making him a gift of their town; 
but Hezekiah, while accepting this, instead of 
putting Padi to death, as the Bkronites desired, 
merely retained him prisoner. More prudent than 
Elulceus, Hezekiah, the petty princes of Arvad, of 
Gebal, and of Asdod, the kings of Moab and of 
Ammon, remained neutral until fortune had de- 
clared itself upon one side or the other. 

In Jerusalem, the military and patriotic party 
urged that an opportunity which they regarded as 

* Schrader, Die Kiel, und das A. T. p. 285 and following ; G. 
Smith, History of Sennacherib (London, 1878); Maspero, p. 433 

and following. 

vol. in a 


excellent should not be lost for crushing the stand- 
ing danger of the freedom of the East. This 
military party appears to have been almost in- 
different in matters of religion ; they were not, 
at all events, Iahveists of the reformed school; they 
had no great objection to graven images;* they 
were hard, perhaps unjust, towards the people, as 
aristocrats so often are. In striking contrast to 
them, like white upon black, stood out the party of 
democratic theocracy and of religious puritanism, 
opposed to a lay state and to military precautions, 
being intent solely upon social and religious reforms. 
In a year, they said,f the city will be destroyed ; it 
will become a refuge for the wild beasts, until a 
spirit from on high shall be poured out upon it, 
and until there is a complete transformation. Then 
the desert will blossom like the rose ; universal 
peace will reign amid unalloyed prosperity. This 
will be the fruit of justice, itself the fruit of the 
attention paid to the utterances of the prophets 
inspired by Iahveh. 

Women, it appears, were upon the side of the 
politicians, rather than of the prophets .% Isaiah 
regards them as being in general opposed to reforms, 
and is very severe upon them.§ In one of his most 
violent passages he apostrophises the careless ones, 

* Isaiah, ch. xxx. v. 22. 

f Isaiah, ch. xxxii. v. 9 and following, 

\ Isaiah, ch. xxxii. v. 9-20. 

§ See vol. ii. pp. 418, 419, and below, pp. 104, 105.119, 147. 


who, thinking only of their attire, will not believe 
in the woes to come. They were probably ladies 
of the royal family whom the rugged prophet had 
in his mind, for we shall see presently * that the 
women about Hezekiah were not at all favourable 
to the austere doctrines of the reformers. 

It is a rare thing for a man to serve several 
causes at the same time, even when they are good. 
The man of faith is always a political danger, for 
he puts his faith before the interests of his country. 
The party of the prophets gained the day in history. 
They were in favour of the submission to Assyria, 
and, taking into account the impossibility of con- 
quering so strong a power, it cannot be said that 
they were wrong. If Shebna had not been counter- 
acted by Isaiah, it is probable that Jerusalem would 
have had, in Hezekiah's time, the same fate as 
Samaria when Ho shea was king. But the rôle of a 
preacher of the counsels of despair is a melancholy 
one ; he must be very sure that he is uttering the 
words of Iahveh to feel it his duty to say to a con- 
quered people : " Submit ; do nothing in the way of 
revenge; you will infallibly be defeated." 

Yet this was the idea which pervaded the mani- 
festoes of Isaiah at the time of which I am speaking. 
All the resources of his virulent and popular talents 
were called into requisition in order to declaim 
againt the diplomacy and military preparations, 

* See below, pp. 104, 105. 


against the Egyptian alliance more especially.* 
This alliance was concluded without consulting 
Isaiah, who would not hear of it.f The system of 
sending messengers with presents through Arabia 
Petraea will end in disaster. There are superficial 
people who would have the preacher speak to 
them after their illusions and not according to 
the truth, who become impatient when they are 
spoken to about Iahveh. "Woe unto them ! Sal- 
vation must come by conversion, by the reform of 
society. { 

The prophet closes by foreshadowing a perspective 
of happiness. The Assyrian shall be exterminated 
without the intervention of a sword wielded by man. 
The people shall renounce their graven images and 
the fragments be cast upon the dunghill. Upon 
the morrow of each crisis it was thought that a 
social golden age was dawning in which the king 
would be just, and in which those who conducted 
affairs would be perfect, in which the prophets 
would be listened to, and in which the impious 
would be reduced to impotence. Then even the 
foolish will understand, the churl shall no longer 
be called bountiful, nor the crafty man liberal. 

Does one not seem to be reading the words of a 
rabid socialist of our own day, declaiming against 

* Isaiah, ch. xxx.-xxxii., three distinct surates. 
•f Isaiah, ch. xxxi. v. 1-3. Compare ch. xxx. v. 16 ; Psalm 
xx. v. 8 ; xxxiii. v. 17; lxxvi. v. 7. 
\ Isaiah, ch. xxx. v. 16-17. 


the army, making mock at patriotism, predicting 
with a kind of savage joy future disaster, and sum- 
ming up his views much as follows : " Justice for 
the people, that is the true vengeance ; reform 
society, and you will be victorious over your ene- 
mies ; wherever the poor are victimised, wherever 
the rich enjoy privileges, there can be no country." 
Isaiah, it is fair to add, gives to these dangerous 
truths a brilliancy which they have never possessed 
since. The beautiful political fragment which I 
have been analysing concludes with a theophany of 
Iahveh which breathes the old naturalist spirit and 
melts, as in the fifth act of an opera, into the 
flickering flame of Ashur's funeral pile.* 

It was only after a lapse of three years that 
Sennacherib, having vanquished his enemies in 
the region of the Tigris and the Euphrates, could 
turn his attention to Syria and Egypt, t He took 
the valley of the Orontes and the coast, wrote his 
stela upon the rocks of the river of the Dog to the 
north of Beyrout, as Rameses II. had already done, 
crushed all the small Phoenician royalties, Tyre 
excepted, and was only stopped when he came to 
Ekron. There he met a first Egyptian army, 
which he cut to pieces ; he captured the city, and 

* Isaiah, ch. xxx. v. 27-33. See also vol. i. p. 238. 

f For the chronological difficulties arising from 2 Kings, ch. 
xviii. v. 13, and Isaiah, ch. xxxvi. v. 1, see Dillman, Der Proph.Jes., 
pp. 312-313. The hypothesis substituting Sargon for SennaclieriV , 
is open to serious objections. 


directed all his forces against Lachish, to the south 
of the Philistines. 

How came it to pass that Hezekiah, who had en- 
tered into the league against Assyria, did not join 
forces with Egypt and the Philistine cities to arrest 
Sennacherib's advance at Ekron? The reason 
doubtless was due to the indecision which the 
turbulence of the prophets caused to reign in his 
counsels. Isaiah was not strong enough to prevent 
the Israelite patriots from turning their eyes 
towards Egypt and Ethiopia; but his continual 
declamations against all human precautions and 
against anything which seemed like a policy of pre- 
caution paralysed any action Hezekiah might have 
taken. The natural common sense and the piety of 
the king neutralized each other. 

The Assyrian army ravaged Judaea to a most 
terrible degree.* The emotion at Jerusalem was 
very profound, as no preparation for resistance had 
been made. The wall of the city had several 
breaches in it; no steps had been taken for protect- 
ing the water supply from the enemy, t as the 
prophets would have regarded this as a species of 
insult to Iahveh. To those who talked of horses 
and war- chariots they replied with their everlasting 
refrain : " Some trust in chariots and some in 

* 2 Kings, ch. xviii. v. 13 and following; ch. xix. v. 29 and 
following ; Sclirader, Die Kiel., p. 285 and following ; Maspero, 
Hist, anc, p. 433 and following. 

t Isaiali, ch. xxii. v. 24-27. • 


horses; but we will remember the name of the 
Lord our God."* 

When the terror became uncontrollable, brief 
oracles were put into circulation, announcing that 
Iahveh had resolved to destroy the Assyrian army 
in Palestine itself. t The manifestoes — the articles 
as we should now call them — of Isaiah at this 
solemn moment come one upon the other. He does 
not seem to be the least affected by a state of 
affairs for which he is in fact responsible. " What 
aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone upon 
the housetops ? % Thou that art full of stirs, a 
tumultuous city."§ He does not reproach the 
unhappy Jerusalemites with anything beyond not 
fasting and weeping enough. All the tribe of 
Judah takes refuge in Jerusalem. That will not save 
any of them; they will all be taken together. 
Blam, Qir, the most remote provinces of Assyria, 
are drawing nigh. The cavalry is at the gates; 
the siege is about to begin. || 

Hezekiah took the only step which his previous 
tergiversations left him the choice of. He sent to 
the camp of Lachish to make his submission to the 

* Psalm xx. v. 8, and 2 Chronicles, ch. xxxii. v. 6-8, expresses the 
same idea. For the expression nîrV DB>, compare Isaiah, ch. xxx. 
v. 27. See above, p. 185. 

\ Isaiah, ch. xiv. v. 24-27. 

% To get a good view of what was happening. 

§ Isaiah, ch. xxii. v. 1-14. 

|| Isaiah, ch. xxii. v. 8-14. 


King of Assyria.* Sennacherib imposed a contri- 
bution of three hundred talents of silver and thirty 
talents of gold. For this Hezekiah had to deliver 
up all the money that was in the temple and in the 
palace treasury, and even that was not sufficient. In 
order to complete the sum, it was necessary to take 
off the gold which covered the gates of the temple 
and from the pillars which Hezekiah had overlaid. 
Padi was re-established in his kingdom of Ekron, 
and received, by way of compensation for his im- 
prisonment by Hezekiah, certain cities of Judah. 
The kings of Ashdod and of Gaza were also recom- 
pensed for their fidelity to Assyria at the cost of 

If the campaign had terminated in this way, the 
triumph of Iahveism would have been but a poor 
one. The national conscience needed something 
more striking. Whether it was that the legend, by 
means of the historiographical combinations which 
are customary with it, ran riot,f or that the cam- 
paign of Sennacherib really finished disastrously 
for the Assyrians, the prophetic party related the 
event as a complete victory for Iahveh. Senna- 
cherib, as it appears, thought that Hezekiah had 
committed an act of treachery and made a fresh 

* Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 2nd series, plate xxiii. 

f The inconsistency of the original narratives is manifest, 2 
Kings, ch. xviii., between the verses 16 and 17. It would seem as 
if the data relating to two Assyrian expeditions had been mixed 


attack upon Jerusalem. An Egyptian army was 
formed at Pelusium, and Tahraqa hurried from 
Ethiopia to support the coalition. 

Sennacherib, we are told, sent from Lachish the 
three principal persons of his government, the 
tartan, the chief of the eunuchs, and the great cup- 
bearer, with a large force to obtain the full submis- 
sion of Jerusalem.* The Assyrian army encamped 
near the conduit of the upper pool, in the plain 
which is to the north-west of Jerusalem.! The 
three Assyrian chiefs expressed a desire to negotiate, 
and the king sent out to parley with them Eliakim, 
the son of Hilkiah, Shebna,J and Joab, the son of 
Asaph the recorder (mazlcir). The grand cupbearer 

* All the episode which follows (Isaiah, ch. xxxvi.-xxxix. ; 
2 Kings, ch. xviii.-xix.) was taken by the compiler of Isaiah 
from a book which contained fragments written by Isaiah. It is 
from this, too, that it was taken by the latest compiler of the books 
of the Kings. The compiler of Isaiah did not borrow from 
the books of the Kings, for he had the Song of Hezekiah as 

"f The topographical particulars are here repeated word for word 
from Isaiah, ch. vii. v. 3. This is surprising; à priori, it is almost 
certain that the camp of the Assyrians must have been near what is 
now the Russian settlement, a point at which they could intercept 
the water coming into the besieged city from Mamillah. This 
was what was called the TrapenfivXri tûv 'Acravpliov. It was there 
also that the camps of Titus, of the crusaders, etc. were. In the 
valley of Kedron the camp could not well have existed. So that 
the reference here must be to the conduits of the water from the 
north-west supplying the pool of Hezekiah. The episode of Achaz, 
upon the contrary, appears to have occurred near the fountain 
of the Virgin. See V. ii. p. 509. 

I A very unlikely association of persons. 


explained to the Jews how presumptuous the con- 
duct of Hezekiah had been, and how vain was the 
alliance with Egypt, that crushed reed which pierces 
the hand that leans upon it.* Their God Iahveh 
had been angered by the king, who had conceived 
the unfortunate idea of abolishing His worship 
elsewhere than in Jerusalem. + Iahveh himself 
protects the Assyrians, seeing that He has given 
them the land. The negotiators are said to have 
closed the discussion by scoffing, while the Jews 
built their hopes on the chariots and horsemen of 
Egypt. % The Assyrians will give them, if they 
like, two thousand horses, upon condition that they 
find horsemen to ride them.§ 

The people, according to the traditional nar- 
rative, were on the walls and heard the whole of 
what passed. The three Jewish functionaries 
were terrified at the effect which such a speech 
might have upon the crowd, and they entreated 
the grand cupbearer to speak in Aramean, which 
they understood, and not in Hebrew. But the 
latter continued to address himself to the multi- 
tude. He would not disguise from the Jeru- 
salemites that the plan of his master, after his 
victorious return from Egypt, was to transplant 

* A familiar phrase with the prophets (see Ezekiel, ch. xxix. 
v. 6), very improbable in the mouth of the Assyrian. 

t See above, p. 2, note 26. 

J Another of the ideas of the prophets put into the mouth o 

§ Perhaps an allusion to Isaiah, ch. xxx. v. 16 and following. 


them, in order to remove them from the vici- 
nity of their natural ally, promising them that the 
land given them should equal Judaaa in fertility. 
Iahveh is a powerless God; He will not save them; 
Iahveh is, in reality, with the Assyrians. The gods 
of other peoples have not saved any of them from 
the hands of the Assyrians. 

The conduct of Isaiah in this difficult conjuncture 
appears to have been most correct.* The prophet 
assured the people that Iahveh would be at no loss 
to avenge His honour, that the Assyrians might by 
their presence once more prevent the harvest, but 
that the year after the seeds would be sown, that 
in no event would the enemy besiege Jerusalem. 
Iahveh will prevail; the just will be saved. f There 
was but one cry in the mouths of the pietists during 
these days of anguish,J and, as a matter of fact, 
the position of Sennacherib became more and more 
embarrassing. Tarhaqa, who had just conquered 
Egypt, was advancing to the attack, and it was soon 
learnt that the Assyrian army was quitting Judasa 
and the land of the Philistines to go and meet the 
Ethiopian. § Jerusalem breathed again; the fangs 
of the monster which held the city within his jaws 
began to relax. 

* Isaiah, ch. xxxiii. 

\ Isaiah, eh. xxxiii. v. 15-16. 

J Isaiah, ch. xxxiii. v. 22. 

§ The order of the day by Isaiah , preserved in the legend, 2 
Kings, ch. xix., and in Isaiah, ch. xxxvii., is of doubtful authen- 


There was an outburst of joy a few weeks later. 
The Assyrian army had ceased to exist; it had been 
destroyed in lower Egypt, more, as it would appear, 
by disease than by the sword of the enemy,* and 
Sennachereb fled back to Nineveh. 

What a triumph for Iahveh ! The prophecies of 
Isaiah had been fulfilled in every particular. Heze- 
kiah had been victorious because he had put trust 
in Iahveh alone. The legend was formed very 
quickly. The oracles of Isaiah, predicting that the 
army of Sennacherib would be exterminated in 
Judasa without the succour of man, were recalled. t 
The plague in ancient days was always attributed 
to a deity or to a destroying angel. J It soon got 
to be related that the rnaleak Iahveh had, in one 
night, slain 185,000 Assyrians, and that the next 
morning the plain was strewn with corpses. The 
Egyptians also explained the disappearance of the 
Assyrian army by a miracle. § 

The reign of Sennacherib was prolonged for a 
considerable period, being brilliant and prosperous. || 
Later, it was said, he was assassinated by two of 
his officers, Adrammeleck and Sharezer, while he 
was praying in the temple. This was considered 
as a sequel to the divine vengence. The Jewish 

* Herodotus, ii. 141. 

t See above, p. 87. 

J Note the angel of Arauna. 

§ Herodotus, book c. ; Maspero, p. 440. 

] Maspero, pp. 440 and following. 


annalists brought forward the date in order to draw 
it nearer to the alleged extermination and render 
the vengeance of Iahveh more complete. The 
enemies of theocracy cannot die without their death 
being a punishment from heaven. 



With the disappearance of Sennacherib, Hezekiah 
found himself raised to a higher degree of power 
than he possessed in the early part of his reign. 
The petty neighbouring princes who had been en- 
riched at his expense lost no time in making them- 
selves friendly with him. Presents came in to him 
from all directions. His treasure-house, which he 
had been obliged to empty in order to pay for his 
ransom, was soon refilled.* There was absolute 
security from Assyria, for, as is always the case 
with a two-headed state, the empire founded upon 
the momentary union of Nineveh and Babylon, 
menaced disruption. Merodoch-Baladan, who had 
for a considerable period already represented the 
protest of Babylon against Nineveh,f sought to 

* Isaiah, ch. xxxix. v. 2; 2 Chronicles, ch. xxxii. v. 27-29. 
f G. Smith's History of Sennacherib, p. 129 and following, and 
Schrader's discussions. The Assyrian texts would lead one to date 


form an alliance with the king of Judah.* No such 
prosperity had been seen at Jerusalem since the 
time of Jehosaphat. 

The party of reform at that time enjoyed a few 
years of undivided power. The unsuccessful attempt 
of Sennacherib was, in fact, a decisive event in the 
history of Judaism. The recollection of this terrible 
episode of the famine, perhaps of the plague which 
accompanied it, was long treasured up. The pro- 
clamations of Isaiah during this crisis were nearly 
all preserved. Even if we admit that the legend 
of the destroying angel found its way in long after- 
wards, the deliverance announced by the prophets, 
accomplished without horses or chariots, without 
any of the means foreign to the tactics of Israel, 
was not that the greatest of miracles ? The national 
god had secured an unparalleled victory. 

At first sight that appeared to be but a very poor 
gain for humanity. The national god of Israel is 
very proud and very jealous. He wishes all the 
glory to be ascribed to Him. He likes to be praised 
and to be flattered : He does not object to being 
told a falsehood,t when it comes from a vanquished 
foe who is compelled to humble himself before Him. 

all that relates to Merodach-Boladan from before tlie death of 
Sennacherib. But I am loth to modify the fairly logical order of 
the Hebrew historiographer. 

* 2 Kings, ch. xx. v. 12. pN^l \2, variation introduced into the 
text. The Assyrian name Binhaliddina does, as a matter of fact, 

f Meaning of £\np Psalm lxvi. v. 3; lxxxi. v. 16. 


One does not see why, fashioned in this way, he 
should be so passionately in favour of right and good- 
ness. But it is here that comes in the masterpiece 
of the Israelite prophets. Their ideal God was at the 
same time the god of the nation. Therein was the 
secret of their strength. A patriotic cause has more 
chance of success than an abstract one.* Religions 
in their maturity are too strong for politics, but 
budding religions have often been dependent upon 
political circumstances now forgotten. The epoch of 
Sennacherib was, like that of Antiochus Epiphanes, 
like that of the return from captivity, one of those 
moments when the future of humanity was staked 
on the cast of a die. Isaiah had, so to speak, staked 
his whole credit upon a tangible fact, the deliver- 
ance of Jerusalem. He had laid a wager, and 
he had won it. If Sennacherib had come back 
victorious from Egypt and had taken Jerusalem, 
Judaism and consequently Christianity would not 
exist. r- 

During the remainder of Hezekiah's reign, that is 
to say for five or six years, the prophets were 
all-powerful. Isaiah was the soul of the king's 
counsels, for Hezekiah, convinced of the prophet's 
superior gifts, submitted to his advice, and it is 
possible that during this latter period, the modera- 
tion which had characterised the first part of his 
reign was not always observed. There were con- 

* Babism, for instance, will only succeed when it has identified 
itself with some national cause in Persia. 


spiracies and plots. The anavim assured the king 
that he would triumph over the perverse, and urged 
him to exterminate them and their seed.* The 
king does not appear to have followed the bad 
advice which they offered him, but he gave satis- 
faction to the aspirations of the good. Internal 
reforms were carried actively forward in the direc- 
tion defined by the anavim; the party of the scorn- 
ful was abased, and authority passed almost entirely 
into the hands of the pious. Justice was probably 
better administered to the poor ; but the higher 
classes, the men of intelligence, were annoyed, and 
the women were highly irritated. The strength of 
the reaction which ensued, under Manasseh, seems 
to indicate that the saintly party, while it had the 
upper hand, more than once abused its power. 

One of the finest lyrical fragments of Hebraic 
literature, the Psalm Quare fremuerunt gentes,f pro- 
bably refers to that period. The triumph of the 
anavim is associated therein with a defeat of the 
kings of the earth, who had sworn to compass the 
ruin of the holy people. The King of Zion is the 
anointed of Iahveh ; God has said to him, " Thou 
art my sor ; this day have I begotten thee." The 
plots formed against him come to naught. The 
wicked are desirous of throwing off the yoke which 
weighs upon them, but Iahveh laughs them to scorn. 
The king will rule them with a rod of iron and 

* Psalm, xxi. v. 9 and following. 

f Psalm ii. at v. 12, instead of "Q read 11 

vol. in. 


break them in pieces like a potter's vessel. A great 
lesson this for those who judge the earth. To serve 
Iahveh with fear, that is what will save a man in 
the day of wrath. Like Isaiah, the psalmist's ideal 
is a world converted to Iahveism and the dominion 
of the Messianic king extending to the ends of the 

An illness which fell npon Hezekiaht demon- 
strated in a very striking way the singular distinc- 
tions of the piety of that day. Isaiah, aware of 
the serious nature of the illness, said to him, " Set 
thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not 
live." Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and 
addressed the following prayer to God : " I beseech 
thee, Lord, remember now how I have walked 
before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and 
have done that which is good in thy sight." And 
he wept sore. Isaiah had not yet got out of the 
middle court when the word of Iahveh came to him, 
saying, " Turn again and tell Hezekiah, the cap- 
tain of my people, thus saith the Lord, the God of 
David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have 

* Thus, for instance, the conversion of Aram and of Hamath 
was anticipated with especial confidence. Compare Psalm lxvi., 
taking into account Graetz's corrections and comparing Zechariah, 
ch. ix. v. 1. 

j* Isaiah, ch. xxxviii. According to v. 6, Sennacherib had not 
yet evacuated Palestine, and the fifteen years of verse 5 are 
probably calculated in view of this. But in that case the treasure 
of Hezekiah (ch. xxxix. v. 2) is quite inexplicable. All these 
historical appendices of Isaiah teem with artificial comparisons, 
which smack very much of legend. 


seen thy tears ; behold, I will heal thee ; on the 
third day, thou shalt go up unto the house of tho 
Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years." 
Hezekiah asked for a sign that he might be more 
sure of the prophecy. The prodigy chosen by 
Isaiah remains an enigma to us. It consisted, 
apparently, in putting back by ten degrees the 
shadow on the sundial set up in the courtyard of 
the palace by Ahaz. Isaiah also had a plaster of 
figs placed upon the boil, and the king composed a 
song upon his recovery, which is preserved to us in 
Isaiah.* Merodach-Baladan was upon such inti- 
mate terms with Hezekiah that he deemed it incum- 
bent on him to send ambassadors to congratulate 
him upon his recovery. t It is probable, moreover, 
that the Babylonian king was also desirous of 
inducing him to join in a league against Nineveh. 
Hezekiah treated the envoys with great cere- 
mony, and showed them all the precious things he 
possessed: gold, silver, perfumes, arms, and utensils 
of all kinds. Isaiah, who foresaw, no doubt, the 
consequences of such an alliance, was very dis- 
pleased at this imprudent display. He repri- 
manded the king severely, and told him, it is said, 
that all these beautiful things would be one day 
carried off to Babylon. According to comparat- 
ively recent narratives, he added that more than 

* Isaiah, ch. xxxviii. v. 10-20. 

•f There are traces here of some artificial combination of Hebraic 
historiography, influenced by the prophets. 



one of his descendants would be an eunuch in the 
palace of the King of Babel. Hezekiah, at first 
much moved, is said to have reconciled himself to 
this with the remark, " Good is the word of the 
Lord. He said, moreover, there shall be peace 
and truth in my days." In this conjuncture Isaiah 
seems again to have been actuated by a very wise 
policy. The attempt at Babylonian independence 
to which the name of Merodach-Baladan is attached 
does not appear to have succeeded.* 

The reign of Hezekiah left very profound traces 
behind it, and it saw what may be called the de- 
finite foundation of Judaism by means of the sort 
of precipitant which was brought about between 
the diverse elements up till then floating in the 
Israelite conscience. There were, in a way, two 
Iahveisms, as in our day there are in reality two 
Catholicisms, the moderate Catholicism, which is 
neither more nor less than a traditional adherence to 
the established worship, and the exalted Catholicism, 
which grows feverish when reflecting upon the future 
of the Church and of the Papacy, which carries on a 
propaganda, which regards it as a bounden duty to 
have no relations with those who think evil. One 
may belong to the Catholic faith, and even attend 
mass, without being the adept of the Catholic partj, 
which regards Catholicism as destined to transform 
the world and to solve all the social problems. 

* Winckler, Untersuchungen zur altorientalischen Geschichti 
(Leipsic, 1889;, pp. 55 and following 


Under the Restoration, when the Jesuits had the 
upper hand, a man might be very attached to 
the religion of his country without belonging to 
what was called " the congregation." In the six- 
teenth century a man might describe himself as 
sincerely Christian without following the reformers 
in their theological mania, and without sharing 
their hatred of the very much abused religious 
state which had been consecrated by ages of use. 

There were, even among the worshippers of 
Iahveh, some very sensible people, and quite honest 
in their way, who did not like the external attitude 
of austere affectation and the mixture of charlatanism 
which the prophets mingled with their pious activity . 
The feeling was much the same as in regard to the 
frérots and papelards in the time of St. Louis. They 
were like a " Salvation Army," importunate, proud 
in their humility, the masters of power, and without 
pleasing whom it was hopeless to expect success. 
Very deep was the indignation of serious people 
when they saw affiliated persons of the prophetic 
sect taken out of their hovels, and being raised in 
an hour out of the dust to the highest functions of 
State.* Whenever a devout coterie gets hold of the 
reigns of government in this way it provokes a 
strong reaction. A whole store of hatred was being 
held in reserve against the anavim for the day when 
their royal protector should no longer be there to 
befriend them. 

* 1 Samuel, ch. ii. v. 8 (an inserted Psalm). 


Pietists are by their essence given to persecution; 
they complain bitterly when they are persecuted, 
and yet they think it very hard when they are not 
allowed to persecute others ; they are so sure of 
being right ! The king was wiser than his pious 
friends; but his complete devotion to the cause 
of the anavim had excited among the aristocratic 
classes a discontent which was destined one day to 
break forth with great violence. The worldly and 
the poor of Iahveh became irreconcilable enemies. 




Hezekiah died at the age of fifty-four, after twenty- 
nine years' reign, but we do not know where he was 
buried, for, from his day, the old burial-place of the 
kings of Judah, at the foot of Ophel, was abandoned. 
Perhaps these burial-places offered more than one 
trace of paganism, and the Puritans thought it 
their duty to conceal the entrance to it.* 

Isaiah had probably preceded to the grave the 
king of whom he had been the trusted counsellor. 
According to Iahveist ideas, Hezekiah had not had 
the full number of days to which he was entitled, 
and if the Scheol had not been as devoid of intel- 
ligence as Hezekiah himself thought, Isaiah would 
assuredly have found it difficult to explain why this 
life, so much in conformity with the ways of Iahveh, 
had not lasted one hundred and twenty years. 

* The large fires "which were formerly lighted at the funerals of 
the kings (2 Chron. ch. xvi. v. 14; ch. xxi. v. 19; Jeremiah, 
ch. xxxiv. v. 5) were perhaps connected with some Pagan usage. 


What must have been more inexplicable still, in 
the eyes of the Iahveists, was that the reign of the 
perfect king was followed by a much longer reign 
(the longest known in Jerusalem), which was in 
every respect the counterpart of Hezekiah's. 

Menasse, whom it is customary to call Manasseh, 
was only twelve when he began to reign. His 
mother's name was Hephzibah, that is to say, " My 
desire is in her." He reigned fifty-five years at 
Jerusalem (696-641), without our knowing any- 
thing more of him than that his conduct was the 
very opposite of his father's. The hatred accumu- 
lated by the absolute reign of the anavim bore its 
fruit, and the party of the worldly, of the lecim, 
who, without being impious, had been offended, 
perhaps annoyed by the hypocrites, again had the 
upper hand. The absence of documents does not 
admit of our forming so much as a conjecture as to 
how this revolution, quite in keeping moreover with 
the general laws of history, was brought about. 
The youth of Manasseh was, no doubt, the principal 
cause, and the influence of his mother became pre- 
ponderant. Now women, a queen more especially, 
would naturally not be favourable to the movement 
of the prophets. These sordid wearers of the saq 
could scarcely attract the sympathy of well-bred 
people. The prophets, for their part, were very 
much opposed to women's idle vanities. Isaiah, 
as we have seen, treated women very harshly. 
These great organised Semitic religions are made 


for men not for women. The old Judaism,* like 
the old Islamism,f made very scant room for women, 
so that women were not at first at all favourable 
to it.J 

The governing classes, upon the other hand, the 
military more especially, recovered their influence. 
The zealous sectarians who had curried favour with 
Hezekiah, and who, moreover, no longer had their 
leader Isaiah, found themselves, after the king's 
death, exposed to the hostility of those whom they 
had ill-treatea. The wind veered round very sud- 
denly. The party opposed to the anavim assumed 
power in a body, and the judicial institutions of the 
time, or rather the absence of judicial institutions, 
opened the door to a terrible degree of arbitrary 
dealing. The trials at the gate of the city were, 
like the accusations before the agora in the Greek 
cities, a threat held over everybody's head.§ The 

* The superstitions of women were not of much consequence. 
See nevertheless Proverbs, xxxi. v. 30. Take note also of the pro- 
phetess Huldah. 

•f In the early Islamism woman has no religion, not even a soul. 
One of the compliments an old Arab poet pays his mistress is that 
she does not read the Koran. It is only quite recently that women 
have a place given them in the galleries of the mosques. The 
Mussulmans do not like their women to be devout. With the 
Shiites, who are less Semitic than the Sunnites, the women are 
more pious. 

J We shall find the same thing occurring at the death of Josiah 
(see below, p. 302, 303, 313). 

§ The metaphors taken from trials are continually occurring in 
the Psalms and the book of Job. Psalm xxxvii. v. 33; cix. 
v. 7 ; cxxvii. v. 5, etc. 


great duty of Iahveh was to save his servants v?hen 
they appeal to the law. The administration of 
justice was the great scourge of the time. Every 
man ran a risk of being dragged before the bar of 
the tribunal of his adversary. The bearing of false 
witness was an every-day occurrence ; the party in 
power thus holding the lives of their adversaries in 
their hands. Fanatics did not stick at this method 
of getting rid of their enemies ; the liberals, having 
become all-powerful, paid back their former oppres- 
sors with interest. 

We have no precise information as to how far 
these acts of violence went. It is very possible 
that certain zealots expiated the domineering acts 
done by them during Hezekiah's reign, and that a 
few saintly personages fell victims to their intem- 
perate zeal. But we know how quick fanatics are to 
complain when their fanaticism meets with resist- 
ance. The accusation of having " filled Jerusalem 
with innocent blood,"* is assuredly an exaggerated 
one. Jeremiah, a century later, only makes vague 
allusions to this.f Fanatics are in the habit of 
calling themselves oppressed when they are no 
longer the masters ; toleration is what they detest 
above all things. They prefer being harried to 

* 2 Kings, ch. xxi. v. 16 ; ch. xxiii. v. 26 ; ch. xxiv. v. 3-4. 

f See ch. ii. Jeremiah, in which all the misdeeds of Manasseh's 
reign are grouped together. The misdeed relating to D^pJ D*3V2Ki 
Jeremiah, chap. ii. v. 34, is not clear. The passage of Jeremiah, 
ch. ii. v. 30, is general; nevertheless, if it is not special to Manasseh, 
it implies Manasseh. 


being placed by common law upon a footing of 
equality with what they regard as error. It is 
always a mistake to persecute them ; but, as a rule, 
whenever they are subjected to the buffets of for- 
tune, they have in a measure brought it upon 
themselves. What appears true is, that the violent 
language of the prophetic school was severely 
checked, and that Manasseh in reality practised 
toleration, granting no exclusive privilege to the 
worship of Iahveh, and allowing the pagan rites 
which his father had proscribed to be freely prac- 
tised. The places devoted to pagan forms of worship 
were re-established ; Manasseh did not merely allow 
each of his subjects to worship after his own 
fashion, for he himself appears to have been eclectic 
in matters of religion. Within the temple of Iahveh 
he erected altars to Baal and to the strange gods. 
He made aseroth for himself as Ahaz had done, one 
of these graven images being in the temple itself.* 
The Monotheistic Jews were quite under the im- 
pression that the gods of the nations were neither 
more nor less than stars ; it was asserted that the 
two courts of the temple had altars for all the host 
of heaven, and that the king worshipped alternately 
before these stellce. 

A much graver accusation, if not a calumny, was 
that of having made his son (the eldest) pass 
through the fire, that is to say, of having sacrificed 
him by burning him in honour of Iahveh or Moloch, 

* rwNn boa 


doubtless at the time of some extreme peril. It 
appears that the seventh century b.c. witnessed a 
certain recrudescence among the Jews of that hideous 
usage of the old Semitic peoples.* The valley of 
Hinnom, to the south of Jerusalem,twas the theatre 
of it, there being at this place, close to the Potters' 
Gate,{ bamoths, or earthen platforms, upon which 
the fire offered up to Moloch was almost always 
alight ; the shrieks of children making the vicinity 
very sinister. People with any respect for them- 
selves kept well away from this spot, or if they had 
to pass by spat upon it, so that it soon came to be 
called the Topheth, or " spittle. "§ The Iahveists of 
the reform held these rites in horror, and attested 
that it was false that Iahveh had ever ordered any- 
thing of the kind. || 

Manasseh offended the orthodox not less sorely 
by his leaning for divination and sorcery. He con- 
sulted familiar spirits and ventriloquist wizards, all 
things which the pure Iahveist regarded as most 
reprehensible. The Iahveist nabi, being thus over- 

* The oldest Bible texts never mention this crime. Compare 
vol. ii. p. 516-f>17, note. That there was a regular cremation, not 
a mere purifying by a rapid passage through the flame, is proved by 
2 Kings, ch. xvii. v. 31; Ezekiel, ch. xvi. v. 20 ; ch. xxiii. v. 37; 
Jeremiah, ch. xix. v. 5 ; ch. xxxii. v. 35. Compare ch. vii. v. 31. 
See below p. 138. 

■f Gé-hinnom, or Géhenne. 

X moin or JVD-in- Jeremiah, ch. xix. v. 2. That must have 
been near the Chaudemar of the crusaders {Haceldamd) . 

§ 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 10; Jeremiah, ch. vii. v. 3i-32 ; ch. xix 
V. 6, 11, 14. | Jeremiah, ch. vii. v. 31; ch. xix. v. 5. 


shadowed by his rival, the qosem, was put into the 
background. We do not read, during Manasseh's 
reign, of a single prophet mixing himself up in 
home affairs, as Isaiah, Micah, Hosea, and Amos 
had done. Nahum, the only prophet of that reign, 
is more or less of a profane writer, without any 
Messianic or moral tendency. 

What rendered this crisis really cruel for the 
conscience of the true Israelite was that it lasted 
nearly seventy-five years, the reign of Amon and 
the first part of Josiah's reign having the same 
characteristics as that of Manasseh. Prophetism, 
during this period, seems to have held its peace ; 
and it needed all the tenacity of the Hebrew spirit 
not to yield to a temptation which struck at the 
very roots of the faith. What, in short, can be 
said about a god who has only this present life to 
reward his faithful followers, and who abandons 
them to their enemies, who so neglects his honour 
as to allow himself to be outrageously mocked by 
those who deny Him ? Evidently, he must be 
asleep ; he must be forgetting himself. " Arise, 
awake, Iahveh," is the cry of that day.* The con- 
centrated mass of sadness and hatred which the 
prolongation of this unnatural situation created 
was the inspiring motive of a series of psalms con- 
ceived in a new spirit.f The author always repre- 

f All these Psalms are characterised by numerous errors in 
transcription. They have a critical destiny of their own. 


sents himself as being in distress, abandoned by 
God, surrounded by wicked men, exposed to the 
jeering of triumphant impiety. These psalms take 
the place, as it were, of the prophets, who are not 
associated with this period. We can perceive in 
them, as clearly as in no matter which prophet, 
the rage of the humiliated anavim, their wrath 
against the worldly. 

Thus, in Psalm xciv. verse 20, there is a direct 
allusion to Manasseh as a government " which 
frameth mischief by a law" (hoq). The impunity of 
the wicked often inspires the persecuted anav with 
thoughts very analogous to those in the book of 
Job.* At other times he is overcome by despair, 
and, without ever failing in his declaration of 
innocence, regards himself as abandoned by the 
God who should avenge him.f The trial would 
have been too severe a one for any other race. A 
god who fails so much as this in all his promises 
would with any other people have been given up. 
The great waiting power of Israel was displayed 
perhaps more strikingly in this circumstance than 
in any other. The principle of the intermittent 
justice of Iahveh proved the saving clause. Iahveh 
is generally asleep; His justice is only exercised 
on set occasions, by some sudden revolution which 
repairs everything. If there were really martyrs 

* Psalm lxxiii. Compare this and also Psalm xlix. with Job. 
See above, p. 67. 

•f Psalm xxii. very much altered. 


under the reign of Manasseh they must have died 
of impotent rage. For we do not, as a matter of 
fact, find appearing from this epoch the ideas of 
resurrection and of a reign of martyrs which, in 
the time of Antiochus Epiphanes were the outlet 
of a desperate situation. The poor anav, despised 
by the mighty of the earth, consoled himself by 
recapitulating the motives he had for not being 
envious of his successful adversaries. Their pros- 
perity will not last. And then the just man is much 
happier in his peaceful mediocrity. He will in the 
end possess the earth. No just man was ever 
known to be quite poor.* Under a variety of 
forms the proud Israelite thus makes Iahveh feel 
that His true interest is not to abandon His 
servants. God is not praised in Scheol ; the dead 
have no feeling. In leaving one of His servants to 
descend into Scheol, Iahveh deprives himself of an 
eulogist. f There is no torture that Israel did not 
put itself to in order to avoid the idea which all other 
religions have accepted with singular facility, the 
idea of life beyond the grave. The recompenses of 
another world seemed to Israel mere chimeras until 
the fate of the martyrs imposed the idea as a neces- 
sity in the time of the Maccabees. The anguish 
endured during the reign of Manasseh, terrible as it 

* Psalm xxxvii. This is a very good specimen of the sort ot 
canticle which these pious men delighted in. Compare Proverbs, 
ch xxiv. v. 1. 

\ See Isaiah, ch. xxxviii. v. 10-20. 


was, was not strong enough to move the faith of 
Israel in what it regarded as unshakable evidence. 

It is, perhaps, to this period of extreme difficulties 
that must be ascribed the book which cast the first 
foundations of the legend of Daniel. Ezekiel, about 
590 b.c., classes Daniel among the men of mark, 
with Noah and Job.* The book which has made 
this person celebrated was not the one which now 
figures in the Canon. f The primitive Daniel, as 
his name, coupled with passages from Ezekiel, 
indicates, was a wise man who displayed in his 
judgments the sagacity of God himself .% Stories 
like that of Susannah, inferring that it is impossible 
that God should allow an innocent person to be 
condemned, are quite in keeping with the time of 
Manasseh.§ The argument drawn from contra- 
diction in trifling details (so defective in itself, and 
one which has, in England especially, caused such 
very unjust judgments to be passed) is just one of 
those which were wont to defray the stories of cele- 
brated trials. The principle that God has means 

* Ezekiel, ch. xiv. v. 14, 20 ; ch. xxviii. v. 3. 

f Daniel would have been twelve years old at the outside when 
Ezekiel cites him as a venerable sage. 

J It may have been surmised that the original Daniel went 
through the captivity of Nineveh, while maintaining intact his 
dignity as an Israelite and his faith. But we never find the 
Judaites concerning themselves with the Israelites led into cap- 
tivity, or imagining they had remained true to the worship of 
Iaveh. Thft book of Tobias, conceived under this impression, is 
quite modern. 

§ See above, pp. 105, 106. , 


of preventing the innocent from being made 
victims is quite in keeping with the taste of Job 
and of the Anavite Psalms. The books soon got 
lost, but the anecdotes of judicial sagacity were 
preserved orally.* At the time of the Maccabees 
the ancient framework was taken up again, and 
within it were placed all the ideas of the time. 

* The Palestinian book of Daniel, composed 163 b.c., did not 
exhaust the oral tradition. Other anecdotes, such as that of 
Susannah, that of Bel and the Dragon, were added to it, but never 
succeeded in securing a very definite place; 



The great power possessed by the Sargonides at 
the beginning of the seventh century, reduced, as 
it were, to silence the small kingdoms, or free 
towns, of Syria, Judah more especially keeping 
quite in the background. It is true that the 
events of the reign of Manasseh are unknown to 
us in detail; it would seem as if the orthodox 
annalists, holding this reign in abhorrence, were 
desirous of suppressing the history of it. What we 
read in the books of the Chronicles as to an as- 
serted captivity of Manasseh in Assyria is purely 
fabulous,* for the Assyrian documents, which give 

* 2 Chronicles, ch. xxxiii. v. 11 and following. The vague 
character of this narrative, the erroneous mention of Babel, the 
allegation of an entirely apocryphal document (v. 18,19), all prove 
this to be an agada, taken not from serious historiography, but 
from the quite legendary book of the Hozim or Prophets. If such 
a circumstance were true, one would not understand how the latest 
compiler of the books of Kings could have suppressed it. It was 


us long accounts as to the struggles of Esar-haddon 
and of Assherbanipal with Egypt, as to their devas- 
tating campaigns against Phoenicia, especially 
against Sidon, are silent as to Jerusalem, and repre- 
sent Manasseh as the vassal of Assyria.* The state 
of affairs mutually accepted appears, therefore, to 
have been one of peace upon payment of a tribute, 
leaving to the local king his freedom of action 
within his own dominions. The political status of 
the prophets having been null under Manasseh, the 
policy of the king and of the governing classes was 
less hampered, more exempt from disturbing 
causes. Now the good sense of the nation, aban- 
doned to itself, could not fail to see that peace with 
Assyria was imperatively called for. All the small 
kingdoms of Syria had already realised that there 
was no longer any existence possible for them 
except as members of a vast feudal empire em- 
bracing the whole Eastern world. Asia Minoi itself 

so much in harmony with his object to demonstrate that the 
impious king had been punished ! The reflections which he makes 
(2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 26 ; ch. xxiv. v. 3-4) prove that he was 
unaware of this alleged conversion. The Assyrian texts do not 
speak of a war against Judaea, and it would be natural that they 
should speak of it if it took place. They merely mention Manasseh 
as being subject to Assyria. The legendary nature of the passage, 
taken as a whole, does not prevent verse 14, relating to the works 
executed by Manasseh, from being historical. The author of the 
Chronicles was well informed as to the works at Jerusalem. 

* Schrader, Die Kiel, und das A. T., p. 306 and following ; 
Menant, Ann. des rois d'Ass., p. 245. The allusicn in Ezra ; 
ch. iv. v. 2, is inaccurate at all points. 



entered into this sort of confederation,* which 
preceded that ruled over by the Persians and the 
Greeks, and later by the Byzantines, the Caliphs* 
the Mongolians, and the Turks. 

The result of this era of peace was a great in- 
crease of material well-being for Judaea. The 
reigns of Manasseh and of Amon appear to have 
been very prosperous. The court, more especially, 
and the upper classes, emancipated from the censor- 
ship of the pietists, furthered the development of 
luxury, and of the new fashions, t derived from 
Egypt and Phoenicia. The ardent Iahveists had an 
inward revenge in hugging the idea that Nineveh 
was reserved for early destruction. 

As a matter of fact, the violence of the military 
masses of that day did not admit of any long sus- 
tained construction. Nineveh, powerful as she was, 
was incessantly being harried. First came the 
invasion of the Scythians; then the Medes began 
to organise themselves ; t ( he Assyrian power, divided 
against itself, inspired little confidence. The mo- 
narchies which have two capitals have an inevit- 
able tendency to become dislocated. So much 
strength and weakness astonished the Iahveists. 

* The Lydian kingdom, the last king of which was Croesus, 
seems to be a dependency of Assyria. It is for that reason that 
Lud (Genesis, ch. x. v. 22) is coupled with Aram and Arphaxad. 
All the region of the Upper Meander has received a deep Semitic 
impression. I have collected the elements for a treatise on this 

\ Zephaniah, ch. i. v. 8, 


The sight of these empires tumbling one over the 
other pleased and stirred their imagination.* Israel, 
therefore, took up the attitude which it was to 
maintain for centuries, viz. that of a petty ill- 
disposed people amid other peoples, able to predict 
their fall with astonishing sagacity and rejoicing 
at it. A certain Nahum, probably from Juda3a,t 
appears, in these troubled times, % to have bean 
gifted with singular foresight. The capture of 
No-Ammon (Thebes in Egypt) by Asshur-banipal 
(about 663) § directs his thoughts to the ruin of 
Nineveh, which was not to occur until long after- 
wards, but which in his passion he was led to 
believe was close at hand. || Nineveh will be de- 
stroyed, because it has done evil to Israel ; and the 
Israelite patriot thrills with joy : " Behold upon the 
mountains the feet of Him that bringeth good 
tidings, that publisheth peace ! Judah, keep thy 
solemn feasts, perform thy vows; for the wicked 
shall no more pass through thee ; he is utterly cut 

* See the terrible picture drawn in Ezekiel, ch. xxxii. v. 17 and 

t The ethnic Elkosi has no sense. The hypothesis of his being 
an Oriental Israelite is upset by ch. i. v. 4, ch. ii. v. 1, and by 
ch. iii. v. 14, more of a Jerusalemite than of a Ninevite character. 

\ The oracle of Nahum is assuredly posterior to the episode of 
Sennacherib. See ch. i. v. 9 ; ch. ii. v. 1, 12-14. 

§ Schrader, p. 449 and following. Maspero, p. 460. 

\ Nahum, ch. i. v. 2-6. 

T Nahum, ch. i. v. 15. See also Nahum, ch. iii. v. 5-7. 


In an age so agitated as the seventh century b.c., 
there was never much risk in making sombre pre- 
dictions. Perhaps the pressure of the Medes and 
of the Scythians already began to be felt. Hatred, 
moreover, sufficed to inspire such anticipations. 
Nahum distinguished himself from among all the 
other prophets in that he did not mingle with his 
sinister announcements any hope of conversion, any 
moral preaching. He has not the love of a per- 
secuted anav ; * he is a nationalist, who rejoices 
to foresee the misfortunes of the enemies of his 
country. So much moderation surprises one during 
the reign of Manasseh, so odious to the prophets, 
and here we have a proof that what is told as to the 
tribulations undergone by the anavim is marked by 
great exaggeration. There was probably nothing 
beyond certain reprisals which the worldly people 
inflicted upon an intolerant coterie. It is not certain 
that in the time of Manasseh there were not prophets 
understanding Iahveism in the old-fashioned manner, 
simply as the religion of a provincial or a tribal god.f 

Manasseh died at the age of sixty-seven, and his 
memory was execrated by the advanced party. For 
more than fifty years all the evils which befell 
the nation were, in the eyes of the pietists, the 
punishment of the inexpiable crimes of Manasseh. J 

* He does not once employ the words anav, ani, anve areg. 

f Nahum, we have seen, does not vary much from this type of 

J 2 Kings, ch. xxi. v. 11-12 ; ch. xxiii. v. 26; ch. xxiv. v. 3-4; 
Jeremiah, ch. xv. v. 4. 


He was buried in a garden, called the garden of 
Uzza, near the palace. Anion, son of Manasseh 
and of Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of 
Jothah, reigned only two years. He followed the 
example of his father and left an execrable memory 
behind him in anavite circles. He was assassinated 
in his palace by his officers ; yet he appears to have 
been popular, for the people massacred the con- 
spirators and proclaimed in his stead his son Josiah, 
a child of eight (639 b.c.). The regency, which at 
first governed in his name, appears to have con- 
tinued the principles which prevailed during the 
reigns of Manasseh and of Amon. The sarim, or 
princes of the blood, more attached than ever to 
foreign fashions, showed a deplorable tendency to 
sacrifice the ancient customs to what was then re- 
garded as the progress of civilisation.* Jedidah, 
the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath, mother of the 
young king, doubtless presided over the council, 
and women of her class, belonging to the aristocracy 
of Judah, were not much given to the ideas of the 
anavites, which they must have regarded as danger- 
ous innovations. At the age of thirteen the young 
king was married to Zebudab, the daughter of 
Pedaiah of Rumah, and, about two years after- 
wards, to Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of 
Libnah, both of whom were the mothers of kings. f 

* Zephaniah, ch. i. 

t 2 Kings, chap xxiii. v. 31, 36. 




The anavite was only apparently dead. For the 
fifth or sixth time a vanquished pietism reared 
its head again and endeavoured to regain posses- 
sion of power. The excesses of the fanatics in 
Hezekiah's reign were forgotten. The regency 
which governed in Josiah's name gave popular 
movements free scope to declare themselves, and 
about 630 b.c. the old spirit which appeared to 
have become extinct with Isaiah was resuscitated. 

The signal for this renaissance of messianic and 
anavite prophetism appears to have been given by 
a certain Zephaniah, son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, 
son of Amariah, son of Hizkiah, known by the name 
of Sophonius. The brief fragment handed down to 
us under the name of this prophet is excessively 
sombre ; and we find in it a repetition of the fierce 
anger of the Iahveist compiler of the Thora of 
Jerusalem against civilisation.* Jerusalem f is a 
* See vol ii. pp. 285, 286. f Zephaniah, ch; iii. 


worldly city, full of horrible things. The worship 
of Baal is formally recognised in it; there are 
people who prostrate themselves upon their roofs 
before the stars of heaven, and who swear as 
readily by Iahveh and by Moloch. This heed- 
less city does not hearken to any of the premoni- 
tory warnings. Its chiefs, its judges, its priests, 
are all unjust and prevaricating. Its prophets 
utter lies. In the name of his personal inspiration, 
Zephaniah rises up to announce the near approach 
of the day of divine vengeance upon Judah and the 

This day presents itself to the eye of Zephaniah 
under the likeness of a great festival, a superb 
sacrifice. First of all there are the princes of the 
blood, the ministers,t fond of foreign fashions, 
clothed in strange apparel, the courtiers who favour 
the bad conduct of the royal household ; then the 
Canaanites, the merchants in the bazaar, with their 
hoards of silver; then the impious, who do not believe 
that Iahveh concerns himself with human affairs, 
either to do good or to do evil. J Only the anavim^ 
who have followed the rules of Iahveh, will be 
saved in that day, thanks to their justice and their 

* The author appears to have read Joel. Kuenen, p. 454, 
note 2. 

f Zephaniah, ch. i. v. 8. With regard to I^Dn *J3j see above, 
p. 45, note 2. 

% See above, pp. 67 and 110. 

§ Ch. ii. v. 3. 


Zenhaniah would certainly have invented the 
deluge, if that myth had not already appeared in 
the sacred code. Iahveh, very wroth, is bent upon 
destroying everything. The coming day of Iahveh 
will be the end of the world.* The prophet an- 
nounces, more especially, the ruin of the Philistines 
(Krftim), whose land will be for the time adjudged 
to Judah. Moab and Ammon have been hostile to 
Israel; woe unto them! The Cushites will be struck 
down. Nineveh in its turn will be destroyed.f In 
nearly every case, the Israelite prophet, in announc- 
ing the wrath of Iahveh, has in view the force which 
is to serve as the minister of Isaiah. In the view 
of Isaiah and the prophets of his time, the dark 
spectre was always Assyria. About the middle of 
the seventh century, the empire of Assyria being 
shaken, the executioners of the decrees of Iahveh 
are the nameless barbarians (Medes and Scythians) 
who threatened Asshur from the north and the 
east. The Scythians, Curing Josiah's minority, 
exercised, throughout all the interior of Asia, a 
supremacy which the petty kingdom of Judah could 
not fail to feel. J This supremacy, however, not 

* Zephaniah, ch. i. v. 2, 3, 15, 16, 17, 18. 

| Zephaniah, ch. ii. y. 14-15. This passage has been altered. 

J Herodotus i. pp. 103-106 ; Justinus, ii. pp. 3 and following; 
Strabo, i. iii. p. 21. A vague souvenir of the Scythian invasions 
is to be found in ch. xxxviii. and xxxix. of Ezekiel. Ch. i. iv. v. 
and vi. of Jeremiah have been applied, but without there being any 
decisive proof upon the point, to the same event. A great point 
is made of the fact that, in these passages, the invaders are repre- 
sented as coming from the North ; but any invader of Judœa, even 


having left any positive trace * in the history of 
Israel, it scarcely seems in conformity with the 
rules of sound historical criticism to base too am- 
bitious hypotheses upon so fragile a foundation. f 
The predictions of the prophets had often a rather 
vague objective. Their descriptions of the end of 
the world were a sort of commonplace quite in- 
capable of any precise application. Nahum and 
Zephaniah may very possibly have launched their 
threats without having in their mind anything 
beyond the general views as supplied by the earlier 
prophetism. The Messianic reign, as Zephaniah 
conceived it, resembles in every respect the Mes- 
sianic reign of Amos, or of Joel, of Hosea, Micah, 
and Isaiah. From beyond the rivers of Cush, from 
all parts, the dispersed people of the true God will 
bring offerings. All the earth will invoke Iahveh 
with pure lips. The Pagan gods will disappear ; 
men will come from the distant isles to prostrate 
themselves before Iahveh. In Jerusalem the tri- 
umph of the anavites % over the proud and the 

if he came from Babylon, being compelled to make the circuit of 
the Bekaa, entered the country from the north. 

* The evidence afforded by the name of Scythopolis has no 
weight. This name, like that of Pella, Areopolis, Philadelphia, 
&c, is posterior to Alexander. 

f The ethnical designation of the Scythians, among the Hebrew 
writers, is Mések-Tubal. Ezekiel (ch. xxxii. v. 26) includes the 
armies of Mések-Tubal (Meshed-Tubal in the English Bible) 
among the great armies destroyed in his time. But he does not 
connect them in any way with Palestine. 

t ^lï OV DX, 


worldly* will be complete. The ani and the dal 
will henceforth be all powerful ; Iahveh will be 
King of Israel, and will have His capital in Jeru- 
salem. An era in which the ills of an earlier date 
shall be healed will open, and Israel, brought back 
from its exile t and restored, will taste at last the 
fruits of its fidelity ,J Zephaniah does not seem to 
have made a very strong impression upon the 
society of his day, but a much more powerful indi- 
viduality soon made his appearance in the prophetic 
world and decided the fate of Israel. This was 
Jeremiah, who was, under Josiah, what Isaiah had 
been under Hezekiah. Yery inferior to his pre- 
decessor in point of talent, he surpassed him in 
tragic seriousness and downright pertinacity. He 
was the first saint, in the narrow acceptation of the 
word. In him the sombre sectaries of holiness, 
whom the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries pro- 
duced, were to have their ancestor, their celestial 
patron, and their model, pften a bad one to copy. 

Jeremiah may be reckoned as among the men of 
the greatest importance in history. If not the 
founder of Judaism, he is the great martyr of it. 
But for this extraordinary man, the religious his- 
tory of humanity would have taken another course ; 
there would not have been any Christianity. 

For Jewish prophetism enters with Jeremiah 
upon quite a new path. Its religious character 

* ntM n^X. t See vol. ii. pp. S50, 360, 376, 388 

■J Soplionius, iii. pp. 11 and following, p. 15. 


becomes much more pronounced ; the tribune makes 
Vvay for the priest. Amos and Hosea, like Isaiah 
at certain moments, astonish us by their boldness, 
their love of the people, their indifference in re- 
gard to theological and liturgical questions. Their 
indignation does us good. When they see how un- 
just the world is, they would like to crush it. They 
reason much after the fashion of the anarchists of 
our day : " If the world cannot be mended, it must 
be ended.' ' Jeremiah is not nearly so much con- 
cerned with the social question and the triumph of 
the anavim* He is above all a pious man, and of 
a very strict morality. He is, it must be added, a 
fanatic, full of hatred against his adversaries ; at 
once classing all those who do not admit his pro- 
phetic mission among the wicked, desiring their 
death, and foretelling it. This is very far removed 
from our highest virtue, politeness. But the 
seventh century b.c. was also very far off from 
ours. The moral code had at that time need of 
being affirmed and founded, and the Jew had not 
at his disposal the terrors of a chimerical hell. The 
moral rigorism of our day does almost as much 
harm as good to humanity ; yet it was useful in its 
time. We of the nineteenth century may well take 
sides with Mary Queen of Scots against Knox ; but 
in the sixteenth century fanatical Protestantism did 
more service to the cause of progress than Catholi- 
cism, even when it was rather easy going. 

* Jeremiah and Ezekiel do not employ this word ; very rarely 
they use the words ebion or dal. See Jeremiah, ch. xx. v. 13. 


Jeremiah must therefore be classed with those 
great reactionists whom we do not like, but whose 
part in history it would be unjust to disregard. 
From the literary point of view there is a distinct 
decadence. His style has not the classical solidity 
of the writers in Hezekiah's age ; it is clear, prolix, 
and flabby; it savours of imitation, it teems with 
reminiscences of earlier writers. But the religious 
genius of Jeremiah was without a parallel; three- 
fourths of the rays of glory which encircle Moses 
should be credited to him. Even the sixteenth 
century has no giant to compare to this man pos- 
sessed, as one may say, of the pietist idea. Rarely 
has a moral tendency so seized upon a human con- 
science and filled it with concentrated passion ; and 
this with a minimum of motives for action quite 
surprising. Jeremiah is neither a prophet noi- a 
superstitious man, nor a priest, nor a soldier, nor a 
politician. He has no worldly science; his theology 
is of the simplest; his ideas as to another life are 
null. And yet what tenacity in this belief in good! 
"What courage in failure ! How great he is in his 
solitude, how heroic in his captivity, how sublime 
in his desolation! He is an Elijah of reality, an 
Elijah whose pages are before us and whom we can 
touch. He does not doubt for a moment his Iahveh, 
even when Iahveh most outrageously violates his 
mandate as administrator of justice. Job, a century 
earlier, insults God openly for failing in his duties. 
Jeremiah sits down and weeps. In these supremo 


temptations of faith, he firmly believes that it is 
man who is wrong. When God inflicts a blow 
upon his servant it is the latter who is in fault. A 
grand and chivalrous affirmation this, a sublime act 
of faith which covers all the faults of the Israelite, 
and makes of him in truth the confessor of God 
upon earth. The hero of this desperate effort to 
defend Providence against the weight of appearance 
is the Rabbi of Mayence in the thirteenth century, 
who, led to the stake, invented as against himself 
all sorts of crimes in order not to let it seem that 
Iahveh could allow an innocent man to perish. 

Jeremiah was son of a priest of Anathoth, a small 
town about three miles north of Jerusalem. Anathoth 
was an ancient priestly town of the Benjamites, 
like Nob,* the residence of several families which, 
from the earliest antiquity, were privileged to offer 
sacrifices to Iahveh. Hilkiah, the father of Jere- 
miah, belonged to one of these families, the social 
status and the calling of which it is difficult for 
us to fix. The centralisation of the worship at 
Jerusalem was not yet effected ; nevertheless, there 
was a strong tendency that way. It is doubtful 
whether Hilkiah still offered sacrifices upon the 
ancient altar which Anathoth doubtless still pos- 
sessed. These priestly families, which had scarcely 
any further reason for lasting, furnished perhaps 
ready-made matter for the ideas of " the poor of 
the earth." Jeremiah, however, does not appear 

* 1 Kings, ch. ii. v. 26. 


to have been in want. It is from the depths of 
Iahveism, and not from external circumstances, that 
he appears to have derived the intense fanaticism 
which plunged him while still very young* into the 
fiery furnace of the passions of Israel. 

In the thirteenth year of Josiah, when he was 
only twenty (627 b. c.) ? Jeremiah entered upon the 
prophetic career. His circle of action was at first 
confined to his compatriots. His language was 
hard, imperious, and austere. The love of exag- 
gerated authority with which he spoke turned his 
hearers against him. The people of Anathoth denied 
his prophetic vocation, and sought to kill him. The 
ideas which seem to represent Jeremiah's mental 
condition at this epoch f remind one of the Book of 
Job, and there are many indications that the 
prophet read this book very regularly. 

Jeremiah, even at this early period, appears as 
what he remained all his life, a man of very extreme 
views, an inquisitor, drawing down upon himself 
universal hatred by his scathing invective. What 
shocks us most about him is the hypocrisy of his 
moderation and his affectation of weakness. Like 
a true Iahveist, he remits his vengeance to Iahveh, 
in the assurance that he is leaving it in safe hands. 
A revelation % tells him of the dangers he is 

* Jeremiah, ch. i. v. 5-7. 

| Jeremiah, end of ch. xi. and beginning of ch. xii. See also 
ch. xix. and xx. 
\ Ch. xii. v. 6. 


in from his relatives. In conformity with that 
intimation, he leaves his village of Anathoth, pre- 
dicting its extermination, and comes to Jerusalem, 
where his ardent preaching will find a field more 
worthy of it. From this moment Jeremiah becomes 
the chief of a vast reaction which will never cease, 
and which will lead first to the Maccabees, and 
then, with singular variations of degrees, to John 
the Baptist, to Jesus, to James, a brother of the 
Saviour, to the Ebionite section of the founders of 
Christianity, to Rabbi Aquiba, to Judah the Holy. 

The style of preaching of the new mouthpiece of 
Iahveh is well represented by the first chapters of 
the Scriptural book bearing his name. The con- 
stant self-affirmation to which the prophet resorts 
has a very fatiguing effect. The great moral defect 
of Jewish prophetism is the obligation under which 
the prophet is to affirm his mission without proofs, or 
with proofs transparently unreal. This gratuitous 
affirmation is all the more persistent in the case 
of Jeremiah, because he never appeals to tangible 
miracles, to signs, as Isaiah says.* 

Isaiah would not have written the verses in 
chapter i. of Jeremiah, f who regards a prophet as 
being a sort of infallible Pope, whose duty it is to 
discern things, { and who is clothed with full powers 
from Iahveh. He is the intimate confidant of 

* See vol ii. p. 412. 

t Ch. i. v. 4-10. 

\ Jeremiah, ch. vi. v. 29 and following. 



Iahveh, who establishes him as a wall against the 
kings, the princes, the priests, and the people.* 
The word of God is, in his mouth, a devouring fire.f 
Is it a democrat, or is it a theocratic sovereign who 
speaks in this way ? 

This theory of a spontaneous mission has a 
certain grandeur of its own ; but, applied to political 
institutions, it could only lead to anarchy. How, in 
fact, can a distinction be made between those who 
also claimed to be inspired by Iahveh and who 
announced or advised contradictory things. The 
miracles, employed as diacritical signs, began to 
fall into disuse. The rivalries between the prophets 
were very fierce, each trying to ruin the other's 
reputation, and to lay violent hands upon his 
prophecies. % Bach one related his own dream, 
and these dreams were in many cases homicidal 
calumnies. The fashion of adducing natural cala- 
mities as proofs, a deplorable paralogism which 
Jeremiah is constantly employing, might be made 
to mean anything. Jeremiah uses sarcasm against 
his fellow prophets. § This was a vicious circle from 
which there was no issue. The principal adversaries 
of Jeremiah are prophets like himself. || He does 
not hesitate to say that it is from the prophets of 

* Jeremiah, ch. i. v. 18. 

"f Jeremiah, ch. v. v. 14. 

\ Jeremiah, ch. xxiii. v. 16 and following. 

§ Jeremiah, ch. xxiii. v. 16 and following. 

| Jeremiah, ch. xxiii. 


Jerusalem that all the impiety of the country comes.* 
The prophets of Samaria prophesied in the name of 
Baal; the prophets of Jerusalem encourage the 
evildoers and prevent them from repenting. 

Jeremiah is, above all, an exclusive Iahveist. 
Idolatry, the worship of the stars, and the pagan 
rites are, in his eyes, the greatest of evils. Imitation 
of the stranger is the source of it all. Jeremiah 
complains of these acts of infidelity like a lover 
who has been betrayed. t 

The jealousy of Iahveh extends even to the 
political alliances of his people. Confidence in' 
Iahveh is the only mer/ s of salvation; cleverness, 
strength, riches, will be of no avail. £ The pro- 
phet makes mock of the coming and going of those 
who negotiate between nations, as when he says, 
" What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt . . . 
or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria ? § 

In many respects, as we see, the Iahveh of 
Jeremiah has been almost reduced to the rank of 
a national god. Jeremiah finds it quite natural 
that other nations should have their god ; he does 
not blame them for it. But what seems to him 
monstrous is that people should abandon their god 
when he has not failed in his promises. The fun- 
damental idea among the prophets of the eighth 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxiii. v. 15. 

I Jeremiah, ch. ii. v. 10-37. Compare the gentle reproaches in 
ch. iii. and iv. v. 1-4. 

\ Jeremiah, ch. ix. v. 22-23. § Jeremiah, ch. ii. v. 18. 

k 2 


century, that foreign nations should come to the 
worship of Iahveh, is very rarely found in Jeremiah. 
If driven into a corner he might be got to say 
that these peoples, in abandoning their god, would 
behave as badly as Israelites in being unfaithful to 
theirs. When the Israelites, carried into exile, 
shall say, "Why doth Iahveh thus treat us?" 
they shall be answered, " Like as ye have for- 
saken me, and served strange gods in your land, 
so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not 
yours." * In other places, it is true, Jeremiah 
depicts Iahveh as the God who has made heaven 
and earth. He frequently borrows the grandiose 
descriptions of Job, in which Iahveh is represented 
as the immediate factor of the great natural, more 
especially of the atmospheric phenomena. t His 
logic, which was not his forte, made the best use 
which circumstances admitted of these forced com- 

A difficulty which oftem presented itself to his 
mind, and which arose from his contradictory 
notions about Iahveh, was the severity of God for 
Israel, and His surprising indulgence for the 
Gentiles, who, after all, were much more guilty 
than Israel. { The objection which perplexed Jere- 
miah will haunt Israel until the very last ; it fills 
the Apocalypses coming at the end of the first 

* Jeremiah, ch. v. v. 19. 

f Jeremiah, ch. x. v. 10 and following. 

% Jeremiah, ch. x. v. 24-25. 


century of the Christian era.* Just as the fathers 
and the bishops of the fifth century often seem 
friends of the barbarians and have the appearance 
of inviting their inroad because they predict it, in 
the same way Jeremiah appears to be the secret 
ally of the northern hordes and, later on, of the 
Casdim. These terrible bands, these irresistible 
cyclones, are in his eyes the executors of the will of 
Iahveh. What concerns him in the first years of his 
apostolate t is an invasion coming from the most 
remote lands of the north. { The people whom 
Iahveh will bring is an ancient one, whose language 
Israel does not understand^ They are a very 
numerous people, and cruel, mounted upon war 
horses (regular cavalry, not chariots), armed with 
bow and spear, laying all waste before them. || At 
the period when Jeremiah wrote these forewarnings, 
Nineveh was probably still in existence. The re- 
doubled attacks of the Medes and of the Scythians 
had weakened but not ruined it. It was probably 

* The books of Esdras, Baruch. See Hist des Orig. du Christ., 
v. 352 and following, 519 and following. 

f Jeremiah, ch. iv. v. 1 6 ; ch. v. 15. 

J Jeremiah, ch. i. v. 13 and following; ch. vi. v. 22; ch. x. 
v. 17-25. Bee above, p. 151, note 2. Special signs indicate that 
the reference here is to truly Northern peoples, not to the Casdim. 
Note jTDVpKD, ch. vi. v. 22, and ch. x. v. 22 ; miD* ro^DD, ch. i. 
v. 15. 

§ Jeremiah, ch. v. v. 15. This does not apply to Asshur, which 
there would be no need to design enigmatically. There is some 
novel feature here. 

I] Ch. vi. v. 22 and following. 


these Iran and Tarter hordes whom Jeremiah saw 
upon the horizon as the scourges of God.* 

One of the most finished extracts from Jeremiah t 
is the description of this invasion, which doubtless 
existed only in his visions. The panic is universal ; 
everybody loses his self-control ; Iahveh, to punish 
the people, allows the false prophets to deceive 
them. Bad news arrive apace from Dan and Ephraim. 
The anguish of Jerusalem is at its height. This 
harlot, who has abandoned herself to all the strangers 
(foreign fashions, foreign alliances), is at the end of 
her devices. " When thou art spoiled what wilt 
thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crim- 
son, though thou deckest thyself with ornaments of 
gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, 
thy lovers % will despise thee; they seek thy life." 

A general transportation, such as that which 
befel Israel and so many other nations, will come 
upon Judah. The mass of the people will be ex- 
terminated. The temple^ and Jerusalem will be 
treated like Shiloh.§ Judah will be rejected of 
God like Ephraim, and Iahveh will have no more 
of the sacrifices of his people. || It is obedience 
which he requires, and that is withheld from him. 
The tombs of the kings of Judah will be desecrated 

* The Casdim do not enter upon the scene before ch. xxi. 
"f Ch. iv. from v. 5. Compare ch. v. with threat of a siege. 
J The foreigners, to alliance with and imitation of whom Jeru- 
salem had sacrificed everything. 

§ Ch. vii. and viii., forming a long sermon. 
|| Ch. viii. v. 1 and following. 


as well as the great burial-places of the sarim, of 
the cohanim, and of the nebiim, at the gates of the 
city.* These catastrophes t were destined to occur, 
but at a later date and at other hands than the 
prophet believed. It needed sagacity to foretell 
the ruin of Jerusalem forty years in advance. The 
great forces which were at work in Egypt left no 
room for so small an individuality as Judah. The 
situation of the people of Israel in the seventh 
century b.c. was very much what it was in the 
first century of the Christian era, when confronted 
by the growing mass of the Roman empire. The 
predictions ascribed to Jesus concerning the events 
of the year 70 are of the same order as those of 
Jeremiah. The Jewish spirit has always had a 
great tendency to predict general evolutions. Jere- 
miah sees very clearly that the small kingdom of 
Jerusalem will be destroyed root and branch, like 
that of Samaria. The future of Israel is not neces- 
sarily compromised on that account. The tree will 
be cut down, but the roots will not be pulled up; it 
will grow again. J There will then be an Israel 
formed by the reuniting of the two families, docile 
to the prophets, which will observe the precepts 
of Iahveh.§ Jeremiah does not go much beyond 
this; like all the prophets he sets little store by 

* Ch. viii. v. 1 and following. 

f Ch. vii. v. 30-34. Repeated in ch. xix. 

J Ch. v. 

§ Fragments, ch. iii. and iv. v. 1-4. 


rites,* lie only esteems the worship of the heart. t But 
the brilliant dreams of the prophets of the eighth 
century as to the future conversion of the world to 
the religion of Israel do not seem to please him.J 
In one instance only does the great Israelite ideal 
raise him to the conception of the pure worship: 
" In those days, they shall say no more, The ark 
of the covenant of the Lord : neither shall it come 
to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither 
shall they visit it ; neither shall it be done any 
more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the 
throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be 
gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord." § 

* Jeremiah, ch. vi. v. 20 ; ch. ix. v. 23 ; ch. xi. v. 15 ; ch. xiv. 
v. 12, &c., especially ch. vii. v. 21 and following. 

| Ch. iii. v. 16 ; ch. iv. v. 1 ; ch. vii. v. 6 ; ch. xxxi. v. 33, &c. 

J The conversion of the tribes bordering upon Israel is of much 
less importance. 

§ Ch. iii. v. 16 and following. V. 18 in ch. xxiii., which ex- 
presses a directly opposite idea, is of doubtful authenticity; it is 
missing in the Greek. r 



It could not but follow that such passionate decla- 
mations* must produce a violent reaction. At various 
conjunctures, private individuals, injured by his 
furious diatribes, and the government, made re- 
sponsible for all the mischief which ensued, took 
steps to close his mouth, so full of venom. In this 
way the impassioned man of Anathoth was given 
the best opportunity for displaying his qualities of 
courage and dauntless energy. The power of mar- 
tyrdom was inaugurated ; for when the authorities 
are not resolved to carry matters to an extreme 
against its thorough-paced opponents, mere vexa- 
tious prosecutions only give them force. 

One of the places where Jeremiah was very fond 
of giving utterance to his predictions and threats f 

* Jeremiah, ch. ix., ch. xxiii. v. 9 and following. 

| The date of this episode, related in ch. xix. and xx. (compare 
ch. vii.) of Jeremiah, is very uncertain. The mention of the King 
of Babylon and the threat of being carried away into Babylon 
would incline one to make it posterior to G05. It is hard, however, 
to conceive of Jeremiah being exposed at this date to treatments 


was tlie place called Tophet, in the valley of Hin- 
nom, a revolting and impure spot, with a worse 
reputation than any in Jerusalem. It was there 
that were offered the holocausts of the first-born to 
Baal-Moloch,* or, it may be said, to Iahveh; the 
bama to be seen there, near the Potters' Gate, was 
the place of the great whoredom of Judah, to use 
the language of the time. Jeremiah asserted that 
Iahveh ordered him to sit in this place, in order to 
deliver his most terrible oracle. He announced, 
more particularly, a siege during which the Jeru- 
salemites would be reduced to eating the flesh of 
their own fellows. t The whole city would become 
a Tophet, a funeral pile. Upon one occasion, when 
Jeremiah had accentuated these prophecies, accom- 
panying them by the breaking of a vessel, he went 
up from Tophet to the court of the temple, and 
spake in still more violent terms. Then Pashur, 
the son of Immer, who was chief governor in the 
temple, heard him, smote him, and put him in the 
stocks, which were in the high gate of Benjamin, 
by the walls of the temple. J The next day, Pashur 

such as Pashur inflicted upon him. There is less difficulty in 
supposing that the biographer of Jeremiah, writing during the 
captivity, has confused the dates. 

* b^nb n)bw BPfcO *pB> (ch. xix. v. 5) proves that the refer- 
ence was to holocausts. Compare Deuteronomy, ch. xii. v. 31. 

t Ch. xix. v. 9. 

J These kinds of stocks, in which either the head or the feet, 
sometimes both, were fastened, are still to be seen in the East, at 
the gates of cities or in a tower over the gate. y 


took him out of the stocks, and Jeremiah went 
away, launching sinister predictions at him. 

A sort of private prayer which Jeremiah uttered 
upon this occasion testifies very plainly to the 
depth of the conviction by which he was animated. 
His mission is a burden to him ; he would like to 
escape from it ; but there is no getting away from 
the cunning devices of Iahveh.* Then he delivers 
himself up to lamentation at having been born, this 
being taken from the great malediction of a like 
kind in the book of Job. As a literary composition 
it is poor, but the sentiments which it expresses 
are exquisite. The struggle against the fatal bur- 
den of the divine mission has never been expressed 
with more sincerity. The part of Cassandra is a 
difficult one to sustain ; and he to whom it falls is 
always led to complain of his lot.f 

Iahveh consoles him by promising him that the 
efforts of a whole nation shall not suffice to break 
down his wall. Let him only have patience, and 
he shall be victorious. 

In another place, J Iahveh forbids him to marry 
or to have children. All that are born in Judeea 
are destined to be as dung upon the face of the 
earth. Judah, who so loves idolatry, will be satis- 
fied. He will be exiled to a country where he will 
be able to serve strange gods at his will. Even the 

* Ch. xx. v. 7 and following, 
f Ch. xv. v. 10 and following. 
% Ch. xvi. 


Temple of Zion will be destroyed.* In order to 
sweep away the high places, Iahveh will sweep 
away everything. 

The struggle became one to the death. The 
official world was at its wit's end, and sought for 
the means to rid itself of this implacable censor. 
A plot was formed against Jeremiah ; and, by 
means of calumnious denunciations, it was thought 
that he could be ruined :f and, though the intrigue 
failed, the implacable soul of the prophet did not 
forgive its authors. The terrible prayer in which 
he supplicates Iahveh never to forget the crimes of 
his enemies, and to exterminate their wives and 
children,} reads like that of an inquisitor, identify- 
ing his cause with that of his god. Among the 
errors which Jeremiah followed up with his fiery 
utterances there was one so abominable that any 
degree of violence in regard to it was justified, and 
that was the horrible practice of human sacrifices. 
But, so strange is the irony of things, we shall soon 
find Jeremiah the promoter, more or less directly, 
of a code which decreed death as a punishment for 
heresy in belief. The one is as bad as the other. 
The Spanish auto da fés are every whit as deplor- 
able as the monstrosities of the valley of Hinnom. 
Jeremiah only suppressed Moloch to resuscitate 
him. What a long time it has taken the human 

* Jeremiah, ch. xvii. v. 3 and following. 
Î Jeremiah, ch. xviii. v. lb and following. 
} Jeremiah, ch. xviii. v. 19-23. 


mind to arrive at this very simple truth, that theo- 
retical opinions sincerely held cannot be deserving 
of punishment, inasmuch as they are involuntary, 
and that the sincerity of opinions cannot be legally 
tested. Jeremiah would have been very much 
astonished if he had been told that the sins of 
others were no concern of his. Our liberal prin- 
ciple, which is not to concern ourselves with our 
neighbour, would have seemed to these fanatics to 
be the most cangerous impiety. 



The preachings of Jeremiah were not a solitary in- 
stance, for Jerusalem contained a whole group of 
men who carried the spirit of reform to its most 
extreme consequences : pure theocracy, the prohi- 
bition of idols, and religious unity. Not much 
philosophy was needed to see the absurdity of 
idolatry. The foolishness of saying to a piece of 
wood, " Thou art my father ;" to the stone, " Thou 
hast brought me forth;" was too marked not to 
be readily perceived. The loud shouts and the 
wild dances with which the simple accompanied 
their prayers and their sacrifices, moved the Puri- 
tans to jests, such as, " Take care that you do not 
get hoarse;"* or else, "Cry aloud; your god is 
hard of hearing!" The details of the fashioning of 
the idols were also made much of,t while a certain 
man, called Habakkuk, £ who appears to have been 

* Jeremiah, ch. ii. v. 25 ; 1 Kings, ch. xviii. v. 27. 
t Jeremiah, ch. x. v. 3-15. Compare Isaiah, ch. xl., xli., xliv. 
J The form ( Habacuni) is perhaps the true one. The P of the 
writing of a cei Lain epoch very much resembles a final D. 


one of the pillars of the devout party, was as severe 
as the most austere Mussulman upon the sculptors.* 
Phidias would have found it difficult to struggle 
against objections such as Habakkuk raises in this 
passage. As a matter of fact, Jeremiah and Ha- 
bakkuk were as much astray in theology as the 
idolaters whom they held up to ridicule. They 
imagined that the scourges originated from a god 
who punished mankind, that death is due to a 
decree pronounced by the same god against those 
whom he wishes to destroy at a given moment, and 
they enjoined prayers being offered to the selfsame 
god accordingly. This is as false as to believe that 
a wooden, an earthen, a stone, or a metal image 
can have any effect upon the weather. It is less 
superstitious in appearance; but it is much more 
capable of inspiring fanaticism. The one god has 
had his fanatics ; the idols of wood or metal can 
scarcely be said to have had. This theology after 
the fashion of Jeremiah has, moreover, a still 
graver drawback — that of allowing men to believe 
that they are in the secret of the ways of Provi- 
dence, and of leading them to form a number of 
false opinions, especially to regard the unfortunate 
man as being always deservedly punished, which is 
at once unjust and cruel. The lécim would have 
been right if they had confined themselves to say- 
ing that no special will presides over the govern- 
ment of this world; but the distinction between 
* Habakkuk, ch. ii. v. 18-20. 


the conscious and the unconscious in the develop- 
ment of the universe could not then be made, 
seeing that, in our day, it is scarcely understood 
by the great majority of even educated men. 

It may be asked whether more light existed, in 
any part of the world, about 625 b.c., as to these 
contradictions of the religious and moral world? 
Most probably not. China, no doubt, was already 
at rest, with that absence of theological and teleo- 
logical requirements, which is the cause of its 
remarkably conservative spirit, which may almost 
be compared to that of the bees and the ants. India 
already indulged in metaphysics, but had got no 
further than a jangle of ill-assorted tenets, and a 
conflict of schools leading to no result. Babylon, 
from a very remote period, had been in possession 
of positive science, especially in regard to mathe- 
matics and astronomy; and from an early epoch 
Babylon had its theory for explaining the origin of 
the world without gods, these theories being more 
or less known in Phoenicia, in Aramea, and in 
Haran. But true science appears to have been 
extinguished at various times by the science of 
charlatanism. There occurred, it would seem, in 
Babylon, what would occur in our days if the 
scientific charlatans, backed up by the fashionable 
world and the newspapers, were to invade the 
Institute, the College de France, and the faculties. 
With us certain requirements superior to the 
caprices of the fashionable world, such as artillery, 


the manufacture of explosive materials, and in- 

J. * 

dustry based upon science will uphold the true 
science. In Babylon, the charlatans had the upper 

Already, it is true, the genius of Greece was 
making its appearance in the rational order, and 
was in process of creating reason, as it had created 
beauty. The great principle of the fixity of the 
laws of nature was dimly seen by a few élite 
minds, such as Thaïes of Miletus, Pherecydes of 
Syrus, who probably derived their inspiration from 
Phoenicia, itself in turn the intermediary of Baby- 
lonia. The superiority of Greece over the East 
was an indicated if not accomplished fact. The 
germ from which science and philosophy will issue 
for the whole of humanity is clearly visible. Solon 
and the seven sages, as they are disclosed to us 
athwart the delightful anecdotes of their legend, 
have much more wit about them than Jeremiah. 
But as regards social questions, and the question 
of life beyond the grave, the Jewish sages enjoyed 
an immense advantage. In no Greek city had the 
struggle against idolatry, against the mercenary 
priests, against the rich oppressors, so much origi- 
nality as at Jerusalem. In short, the battle of 
humanity was, for the time being, fought in that 
small city, the name of which was not destined to 
be borne throughout the world for another thousand 

The religious spirit of Jerusalem was concen- 



trated in a very small minority ; bnt the great 
religious movements are nearly always brought 
about by a handful of extremists, who take posses- 
sion of the head of the State, borrowing from 
him his authority, and, in return, placing their own 
ascendancy at his disposal. This is what happened 
with Buddhism and Asoka, with Christianity and 
Constantine, with Protestantism and the princes of 
the sixteenth century. Already in Israel Heze- 
kiah's power was doubled by that of an Isaiah, 
The same thing occurred again seventy-five years 
later, but upon a much more considerable scale, 
and with a prospect of lasting which upon this 
occasion was fulfilled. 

Owing to circumstances of which we are igno- 
rant, Josiah, at about the time he attained his 
majority, became converted to, or at all events 
declared himself in favour of, the party of reform, 
of which Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and a 
prophetess named Huldah were the most ardent 
champions. Everything tends to prove that this 
conversion, carrying with it consequences of such 
import for the history of humanity, was brought 
about by feelings of religious terror.* The prophets 
possessed a hold upon the laity similar to that 
which the monks of St. Martin of Tours secured 
for themselves over the Franks. It was supposed 
that the threats of the man of God were always 
carried out. The sovereign who fell in with this 
* 2 Kings, ch. xxii. and xxiii. , 


idea was lost, for the prophet led him by terror. 
The sombre pictures with which the pages of the 
nebiim teem were not then what they are for us, 
mere literary fragments. They were very night- 
mares, and the prophet was regarded as having 
more or less at his disposal the phenomena which 
he announced. The unfortunate king, scared and 
dazed, esteemed himself only too fortunate when 
the prophet consented to adjourn the realisation of 
his threats until the next generation.* He sought 
by all possible means to satisfy the man who held 
in a measure the decrees of heaven in his hand. 

What proves clearly the conversion of Josiah, 
like that of Asoka, to have been a personal fact is 
that his family does not appear to have become 
subject to the influence which the pietists gained 
over him. His three sons and his grandson, who 
reigned after him, did not at all share his ideas, and 
we shall see that they withdrew themselves com- 
pletely from the influence of Jeremiah. Queen 
Hamutal, more particularly, the mother of two 
kings, appears to have been, like most of the 
queens, anti-pietist. Now the influence of the 
mother over the children is, in the Bast, much 
greater than that of the father. The influence of 
the husband over the wife is small, and it is not 
rare to find strong antipathies set up, thanks to 
polygamy, between them. 

What Hezekiah had done, without resorting, as 

* The case of Hezekiah ; Isaiah, ch. xxxix. v. 7-8. 



it seems, to violent means, and while taking care 
not to make the measure too general, Josiah did as 
an oriental sovereign, believing himself to have 
absolute rights over the creed of his subjects. The 
ideal theocratic sovereign was found ; for here, at 
last, was a prince who admitted holding his power 
from Iahveh, and who was resolved only to exercise 
it according to the will and for the greater glory of 

Religious eclecticism had, since the accession of 
Manasseh, been the constant practice of Jerusalem 
and of the cities of Judah. The insignia of the 
Phoenician form of worship were displayed even in 
the temple, which at certain times was used at one 
and the same time for the sacrifices of Baal and those 
of Iahveh. The provincial bamoth were exposed to 
still greater promiscuity; and the astarteia were 
numerous, to the great detriment of public morality. 
The worship of the stars (seba Jiassamaïm) was per- 
formed upon the roofs o ( £ the houses, and specially 
upon the roof of the royal palace, whence long 
spiral columns of incense were seen rising to the 
heavens.* The people, who were always ready to 
find a fault, asserted that the gods of Judah were as 
numerous as its cities, and that there was not a 
street in Jerusalem but had its altar to Baal.f 
Human sacrifices must have been rare; but the 
odious apparatus for them was to be seen atTopheth, 

* Jeremiah, ch. xix. v. 13. 
j" Jeremiah, ch. xi. v. 12-13. 


and it would seem that, in certain circumstances, 
the kings had resorted to them. 

Josiah reformed all this ; * for first the temple, 
then the city of Jerusalem, and then the cities of 
Judah, were cleansed of all the religious impurities 
which, since the reign of Hezekiah, had accumu- 
lated in them. The king ordered the chief priest, 
Hilkiah, the priests under him, and the keepers of 
the door to clear from out the temple of Iahveh all 
the vessels that were made for Baal, and for Asera, 
and for all the host of heaven. He had these 
burned outside Jerusalem, in the fields of Kidron ; 
and had the remnants of them carried to a refuse 
heap.f The priests who had offered incense to 
Baal, to the sun, to the moon, and to the signs of 
the zodiac were dismissed. The grove (Asera) 
which had been placed in the temple was taken out 
of it and burnt outside Jerusalem, in the bed of the 
torrent of Kidron, and the ashes were scattered 
upon the accursed ground of Gre-hinnom.J The king 

* 2 Kings, ch. xxii. v. 1 and following. 

\ 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 4. Bethel is undoubetdly an error. The 
correction of Thenius n?^ TVIt locus exsecrationis, is confirmed by 
the first graphic characters of the following verse. It is possibly 
Ge-hinnom which is thus indicated. No doubt some copyist 
thought this was a local n, n 5 ?KJ"l , a " towards Bethel," which 
would have led to the wrong meaning and the wrong reading. 

J The author of the Chronicles (2 Chron., ch. xxxiv. v. 4) was 
right in hesitating to accept the meaning " cemetery of the 
common people," which the text of the book of Kings suggests. I 
believe that D¥H *33 should be D3n *33. Note h rj> Trokvavhply. 
Jeremiah, ch. ii. v. 23 (Sept.). 


ordered the houses of the Sodomites which were in 
the temple, at the spot where the women wove 
hangings for the grove, to be pulled down. He 
broke down the bamoth of the gates,* that which 
stood at the gate of Joshua, the governor of the 
city (probably at the entrance to the citadel), and 
that which was to the left of the principal gate of 
the city, near the corner tower, t Lastly, the king 
ordered the destruction of the altars which his pre- 
decessors had raised upon the platform of the upper 
chamber of Ahaz, as well as the altars erected by 
Manasseh in the two courts of the temple; and, 
after having had them broken to pieces, threw the 
ashes of them into the brook of Kidron. 

The last kings of Judah had consecrated horses 
to the sun, between which and Iahveh they drew 
such little distinction that these horses were placed 
in the temple of Iahveh, to the great dismay of the 
orthodox Iahveist. Josiah put an end to this scandal 
by transferring the horses to the pavilion of the 
chief eunuch, J situated in the jpomoerium or joarbar.§ 

* Probably the small altars or sacella seen in the walls of 
Assyrian cities. See Mission de Phênicie, p. 163. 

f The present Jaffa gate. 

| 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 11. The text of this verse contains 
several errors. &OD is a variant brought in for DDD (compare the 
same error Isaiah, ch. ,xxiii. v. 1, and also 1 Samuel, ch. xvii. 
v. 52, &o for nj ; Judges, ch. ix. v. 41, Aruma-Torma,_ &c). The 
name of eunuch *pD3ri3 may also be a variant introduced from 
*?hl2 una, at the line above. 

§ Parbar or parvar is apparently derived from péribolos. Se* 
vol. ii. p. 22. 


Josiah also caused the chariots of the sun, which 
had probably been used for some ceremonial, to be 

The revolting Topheth was marked out most 
distinctively for expiation, and Josiah had it de- 
filed,* that is to say, he had converted it into a 
dung-heap. At a later date it became a place of 
burial, t still keeping up the idea of impurity. 

The bamoth which were before Jerusalem, upon 
the right hand of the mount of Corruption, did not 
fare any better. { Solomon, in his religious eclecti- 
cism, had had them built for the Ashtoreth of the 
Zidonians, for the Chemosh of the Moabites, and 
for the Milcom of the Ammonites. Josiah had 
them thoroughly profaned ; he brake the masséboth, 
cut down the aseroth, and covered the place with 
the bones of men. Thus Jerusalem and its suburbs 
had nothing left which could offend the eyes of a 
puritan, so Jeremiah must have been satisfied, 
while within a century the aim of Isaiah and of 
Micah was attained. 

In the country districts Josiah took measures 
quite as radical. The sacrificers of a lower grade, § 
whom the kings of Judah, inclined to tolerance, had 
established to burn incense upon the high places in 
the different cities of Judah, and in the vicinity of 

* 2 Kings, chap, xxiii. v. 10. 

f See above, p. 108, note 1 ; p. 149, note 3. 

J 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 13-14. 


Jerusalem, were recalled to the capital.* All these 
places, where prayer had been offered for genera- 
tions, were defiled. Not a single bama was left 
from Geba to Beersheba, and by bama the compiler 
of the Books of Kings means worships opposed to 
that of Iahveh. But we shall see that even the 
worship of Iahveh was affected in its free and 
rural form.f This distinction between the worship 
of Iahveh upon the bamoth and the worship of 
strange gods upon the bamoth, which is to us of 
such capital importance, had scarcely any existence 
in that day. It is true that, to establish this dis- 
tinction, the compiler of the Books of the Kings 
would have been compelled to admit that before 
Josiah's reign the worship of Iahveh was celebrated 
elsewhere than at Jerusalem — a. fact which he 
strenuously denies, believing that the unity of the 
place of worship dates back from Moses. 

In order to complete the reform, the king made 
stringent rules as to necromancy and ventriloquism. 
The teraphim, and all other objects of idolatry, 
were banished from Judah and Jerusalem, and 
superstition seemed to be almost entirely extir- 
pated from the country. 

The analogies between the history of Judaism 
and of Protestantism come out, it will be seen, 
more and more strongly. Reason is so weak that 
it has only the choice between the various degrees 

• 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 5. 

f See below, p. 155. / 


of credulity. The puritan Israelites rejected the 
most foolish of the practices in vogue ; they made 
fun of the people silly enough to seek for revela- 
tions in the voices supposed to come from the 
stomach, and yet they regarded as inspired the 
words of him who, without a shadow of proof, gave 
himself out to be a prophet of Iahveh. Protes- 
tants put down masses and indulgences, but main- 
tained and even exaggerated the revelation of the 
Bible, the merits of the blood of Jesus Christ. 
These distinctions, which appear to us so unreal, 
are conditions of force in action. Poor humanity ! 
How anxious it is to do good ! But how little 
made it is, taking it as a whole, for the truth I 



The work of Josiah was not confined to purifying 
the places which had been defiled by idolatry and 
to restoring power to the anavim, who had been 
persecuted by Manasseh and Amon. The reform- 
ing pietists, who had acquired complete authority 
over him, were desirous of having institutions in 
keeping with the new tendencies. Judaism was 
like a lusty tree, full of sap ; branches, which had 
hitherto been concealed beneath its bark and which 
were only in a potential stage of existence, were 
ready to spring forth. The boldness of the inno- 
vators was very great, stopping neither at impos- 
tures nor at historical falsehoods. Hence arose an 
organisation which lasted only a short period ; but 
which, having its place in books that soon came 
to be regarded as sacred, remained an ideal type 
for the ages to come, and imported an element of 
great importance into the composition of humanity. 
The principal cause of the religious abuses of 
which the prophets so bitterly complain was the 


lack of official regulations as to worship. The king 
made sacrifices to his God in the temple, which 
was in a measure an annex of the palace ; the 
people of Jerusalem, and the personages of import- 
ance, obtained permission to sacrifice in it also. 
But sacrifices were also offered in a number of 
consecrated places in the territories of Judah and 
Benjamin, and as these local rites were not con- 
trolled, a great many impurities easily crept in. 
Some capital step was needed which would make 
Jerusalem the one centre of the worship.* The 
limited area of the territory of Judah made this 
possible, no locality being more than twelve leagues 
from the capital. 

Josiah took this step with surprising decision. 
All the sanctuaries, except the temple of Jeru- 
salem, were suppressed. This must have brought 
about a singular perturbation among the priestly 
families in the small provincial towns. Fancy, for 
instance, a regulation being made that the only 
masses said in the diocese of Paris should be at 
Notre-Dame Cathedral, and what would become of 
the clergy in the suburbs ? Owing to the suppres- 
sion of the bamoth or high places in the provinces, 
a number of levis were left without the means of 

* 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 5, 8, 9, noting the pregnancy of the 
narrative. These D*"iDD or false priests are at the same time D^rQ, 
admitted to some of the rights of the legitimate priests and sharing 
with them. Compare Jeremiah, ch. vii. v. 3-3 4; Deuteronomy, 
ch xii. 


livelihood, so they were mostly transferred to Jeru- 
salem, to which place many came of their own 
accord, having first sold their patrimony.* They 
were not allowed to go np to the altar of Iahveh 
with the regular priests of the temple, who were 
supposed to be descended from Aaron, remaining 
mere assistants, or vestry clerks ; but a share was 
allowed them in the distribution of gifts in kind, 
especially of the massoth or unleavened bread, 
which they ate "with their brethren," that is to 
say, altogether, without distinction. f 

Thus the personnel of the temple was increased 
to an enormous extent. From this period the name 
of Levitical priest begins to be used to designate all 
the pure Iahveist priests.J The myth of a so-called 
tribe of Levi, taking toll of their brethren, then 
became fully developed. The germ of it exists in 
the ancient versions of sacred history, but it is not 
until after Josiah's time that the troop of priests 
massed in Jerusalem became an institution of Israel, 
and was, perhaps, the one which weighed heaviest 
upon its destinies. 

The Lévites were very poor, having little to live 
upon except the casual gifts of the temple. The 
people of the anavim, or the poor of God, thus 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xviii. v. 6 and following. 

f 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 8-9. Compare Ezekiel, ch. xliv. v. 10 
and following. 

J Deuteronomy, ch. xvii. v. 9, 18; ch. xviii. v. 1 ; ch xxi. v. 5; 
ch. xxiv. v. 8, &c. 


reached an enormous total. The temple was sur- 
rounded by a triple band of mendicants. Iahveh 
had an army of fanatici living by his altar, and 
spending their days in idleness under the shadow 
of his sanctuary. The poetry of the temple was 
created, for one always likes the places in which 
one has been poor. The enclosure which sur- 
rounded the sacred edifice was the point upon 
which a thousand varying sentiments converged. 
It was clear that if this temple came to be de- 
stroyed, it would be rebuilt by the affection which 
it had inspired. At this period Judaism had ac- 
quired a material existence ; its roots will no more 
be disturbed; it will live on from age to age, putting 
forth, right and left, the most fertile branches. The 
ideal work, vaguely perceived by all the seers of 
Israel, is now realised in a house of stone, which 
may be regarded as indestructible to all time. 

The revolution affected by these measures was 
not so much felt in the provinces as might be 
believed ; for the centralising movement had begun 
since the destruction of the kingdom of Israel and 
since Bzekiel. Measures were taken so that the 
killing of animals, which had hitherto been insepar- 
able from the sacrifices, should not be much inter- 
fered with. One central slaughter-house for Judah 
was really not enough. So that the killing of 
animals was, so to speak, made a lay occupation, 
and not confined to the religious order.* 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xii. v. 15 and following. 


It was at Jerusalem that the reformation was so 
profound and changed the whole face of religion. 
The temple assumed quite a fresh importance, and 
became what the temple of Melkarth was at Tyre, 
the one national sanctuary of a god who has but 
one temple and who is alone in that temple.* 
Absolute monotheism was founded upon an evident 
and tangible sign. The prophets, who had not 
hitherto set great store by the temple, began to 
group themselves around it, in the liskafy which 
formed a sort of gallery around the sacred building. 
The temple thus came to resemble in many respects 
a Mussulman mosque, with its gobbé, employed for 
educational work. Upon the other hand, a regular 
army of minor clerks was formed around the temple, 
and a long-sustained work of organisation began. 
Leviticism, which up to then had not been a serious 
rival for prophetism, became a power, or it should 
rather be said an obstacle, with which the untram- 
melled spirit of Israel had to reckon. 

One of Josiah's first steps was to have the temple 
repaired. This combination of wood, metal, and 
stone stood in need of frequent restoration, and 
Josiah took up the regulations of Joash J and had 
them carried out. The money which came in for 
the temple was collected by the keepers of the door, 
and then handed to the doers of the work, who 

* Movoïkos. Compare Hercules Moncecus, Monaco, 

•f Compare the Greek Aéaxv- 

J See vol. ii. p. 345 and following. , 


made it over to the workmen and those who sup- 
plied the materials, without any regular accounts 
being kept and with perfect confidence in their 
good faith. Josiah instructed his safer (scribe) 
Shaphan, the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, 
to superintend the payment of the fund to the over- 
seers and to see that the works were duly carried 

The festivals were, at the same time, fixed and 
made more general. t There were three in all : the 
passover, in the month of Abib (afterwards called 
Nisan) ; the feast of weeks, which was celebrated 
seven weeks after the beginning of harvest; and 
the feast of tabernacles, after the gathering in of 
all the crops. These feasts being only celebrated 
in Jerusalem, the pilgrimage thither thus became 
obligatory and assumed great importance. The 
passover, in particular, was arranged for, down to 
the smallest details.}: All naturalist associations 
were eliminated from it, and the passover became 
merely a souvenir of the deliverance out of Egypt, 
regarded as the great act of beneficence which 
attached Iahveh to his people. § The passover had 

* 2 Kings, ch. xxii. v. 3 and following. 

f Deuteronomy, ch. xvi. 

\ 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 21-23. We must be on our guard 
against the exaggerations of the Chronicles. 

§ The book of the Alliance and the ancient texts Exodus xiii., 
xxiii., xxxiv. have a mere rudimentary system. The system of 
Numbers, ch. ix. and xxviii., and of Leviticus, ch. xxiii., is later and 
more complicated* 


for a long time been neglected, and the king, in 
the eighteenth year of his reign, celebrated a solemn 
passover which made a profound impression.* 

These feasts, which had heretofore been of a 
very simple character, henceforth assumed a great 
solemnity. The host of Lévites, as moreover that 
of the hieroduli or slaves of the temple, increased 
their lustre. The musical choirs, in particular, 
were organised with great care, and the liturgical 
Psalms, hitherto very few, became much more 
numerous. It is impossible to distinguish these 
hymns from those far more numerous ones which 
were composed — upon the re-establishment of wor- 
ship — a century later, for the same forms of praise, 
"Praise Iahveh, celebrate his name, sing to Iahveh, 
&c," recur in the two series; and the style of 
these pieces — of a light rhythm and of an easy 
composition — is always the same. The singing of 
these pieces, to the accompaniment of instruments, 
must have had a very charming effect. The songs 
of Sion were renowned ; and, when in a strange 
land, the Israelites were asked to sing them as 
among the curiosities of their country. f 

This well-planned method of embellishing life 
in a cycle of feasts and of practices having a 

* 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 12. 

f Psalm cxxxvii. v. 3. Note canticum novum, in the Psalms of 
the captivity and of the return. Isaiah, ch. xlii. v. 10 ; Psalm 
xxxiii. v. 3 ; xl. v. 4 ; xcvi. v. 1 ; xcviii. v. 1 ; cxliv. v. 9 ; cxlix. 
v. 1. 


spiritual meaning, the chef -A? œuvre of which was 
realised by Christianity in the Middle Ages, is 
quite the creation of Judaism. A pious Jew in the 
time of Josiah was almost as happy in his religion 
as a Christian in the time of St. Louis. All the 
difficult passages in life were made smooth or 
sweetened. We do not find that the Jewish mar- 
riage was accompanied by any religious ceremonies. 
Funerals were a painful necessity, like so many 
other things, which were not in any way sanctified. 
But circumcision, which at first was merely an 
operation preceding marriage, from an early period 
acquired a mystical meeting ; it signified purifica- 
tion and consecration. It was applied to internal 
tendencies, and we read of the circumcision of the 
heart.* We are getting close to the epoch of the 
sacraments, and the essential conditions of that 
which constituted the charm of the Jewish and of 
the Christian life were already laid down. 

Fasting, more especially, which had its root in the 
most remote Semitic antiquity, t became very much 
more general. The fundamental idea of Iahveism 
was that the pride of man is the greatest offence to 
God, and that consequently the humiliation of 
man is pleasing to the Almighty. Fasting, if it 
was accompanied by a garment made of breadths 

* Jeremiah, ch. iv. t. 4; especially ch. ix. v. 24-25 ; Deutero- 
nomy, ch. x. v. 16; Leviticus, ch. xxvi. v. 41; Ezekiel, ch. xliv, 
v. m , 9. 

f See vol. i. pp. 46-47. 



of the coarse clotli called saq, roughly sewn toge- 
ther, was regarded as a very efficacious means of 
appeasing Iahveh, when it was supposed He was 
preparing to inflict punishment upon human pride. 
It is not certain that Josiah instituted an annual 
fast upon a fixed date,* but the time was at hand 
when this usage extended to an extraordinary ex- 
tent and became linked with the anniversaries of 
national misfortunes. There were, moreover, ex- 
traordinary days of mourning or fasting to which 
the population of Jerusalem and of Judah were 
formally convoked. t These public manifestations 
gave rise to great exultation and to fanatical move- 
ments, over which the authorities could not always 
exercise a very effective surveillance. For the 
temple, like the large Mussulman mosques, was 
essentially a public meeting place, and one of great 
fermentation. The population of secondary priests 
and of people from the provinces, who thronged 
Jerusalem for the feasts, constituted around the 
sacred edifice a swarm of parasites, making a pre- 
carious living out of the sacrifices and attributing to 
themselves all the privileges of the gerim.J The 
temple thus began to become a powerful centre of 
religious action, which it had not hitherto been. 
The life which was led in it appeared to the 

* This usage appears to be posterior to the captivity, 
f Jeremiah, ch. xxxvi. v. 9. Compare Joel, ch. i. v. 14; ch. iL 
v. 15 ; 1 Kings, ch. xxi. v. 9, 12. 
J See above, pp. 29-30. 


inmates a nappy one ; and the delight of dwell- 
ing in it and participating in its abundance was 
extolled.* The pilgrimage, with its hymns, t be- 
came a very enchanting solemnity. The family 
rejoicings, from which the poor Lévite and the 
stranger were not excluded, the humble good cheer 
of pilgrimage and pardon, recalled the patriarchal 
ideal in its idyllic and pastoral phase. All the joys 
of Israel are in reality an enlargement of the 
family life ; their feast is a repast in common — the 
naturalist eucharist, to which the poor is admitted 
— the thanksgiving for life as it is, with its limits, 
which do not prevent it from being pleasant, under 
the eye of Iahveh, who dispenses good and evil. 

Many psalms, which might be called Levitical, 
give the exquisite picture of the peaceful happiness 
which must have been tasted in the vicinity of the 
temple during the last years of its existence .% 

In thus becoming the panegyrical centre of the 
nation, the temple became the centre also of national 
movement. The gatherings of the masses in the 
temple for the fasts and for the feasts were the 
opportunities generally selected by agitators for 
their manifestations^ It was at these gatherings 

* Psalm xxxvi. v. 9 ; lxxxiv. v. 2, 11, etc. Compare Isaiah, 
ch. hi. v. 7. 

t Particularly those entitled Sir ham-maaloth. 

£ Psalms xxiii. and lxxxiv. In the latter, the verses 6-8 of which 
are too much altered for their meaning to be clear in a translation, 
we note at v. 10 the pra} r er for the king. 

§ Jeremiah, ch. xxv. v. 2. 

m 2 


that Jeremiah recited or had read his most 
inflammatory pieces.* This was somewhat analo- 
gous to the anti-Islamite meetings in the valley of 
Mecca, upon which all the intellectual movement 
of Arabia converged. Jesus will, six hundred and 
fifty years later, be in that respect, as in so many 
others, his imitator. Judah had henceforth a 
common sensorium. This petty nation, so devoid 
of political institutions, was more richly endowed 
than any other for religious agitation. The fever 
which devoured it will never again be quenched. 

The very fragmentary state in which the history 
of the kings of Judah has come down to us only 
enables us to see the main result of all these great 
things. Who inspired, who assisted Josiah in 
this great reform, his personal share in which was 
doubtless very small ? The name of Jeremiah 
suggests itself, for upon all points there is perfect 
harmony between the views of the prophet and 
the measures taken by the king. The prophets of 
the school of Amos, Micah, and Isaiah would never 
have advised this importance being given to the 
temple, for which they cared but little. But I 
have already observed that Jeremiah was more of 
the priest than any of the earlier prophets. It was 
natural that his tendency should be in the direction 
of the worship. His ideal implied a State religion 
and a king protecting with his sword the pure 

* First manifesto against Jehoiakim, the scene of Baruch, and 
ch. vii. 


worship of Iahveh. The measures of Josiah re- 
spond so completely to this programme that it is 
impossible to get away from the idea that behind 
all the acts of the king stood Jeremiah. If it be 
objected that a priest of Anathoth could scarcely 
have participated in the suppression of local wor- 
ship, it may be answered that this priest of Ana- 
thoth was at open war with his family, which 
wanted to kill him. Who can tell whether this 
hatred did not originate in the sentiments which 
Jeremiah may have expressed as a youth regarding 
the abuses of these village forms of worship, into 
which must have crept so many details unworthy 
of the Divinity ? 

The zeal of Josiah extended to the territory of 
the ancient kingdom of Israel. There was little 
likelihood, in fact, of the ancient kingdom being 
forgotten, and of the alleged associations with 
Cuth, etc., obliterating Israelism in these parts.* 
The Israelite population was a numerous one, and 
the authority of Assyria was very little felt, while 
after the fall of Nineveh it may have ceased 
altogether. These countries fell entirely beneath 
the religious sway of Jerusalem, t the puritans of 
which had a special loathing for Bethel, which had 
been the principal centre of what they regarded as 

* Jeremiah, ch. iii. and iv. v. 1-4. Compare Ezekiel, ch. xx. 
V. 40. 

f See 2 Chronicles, ch. xxxiv. v. 6, 9. 


the infidelity of Israel.* The golden calf to re- 
present Iahveh, which Jeroboam erected at this 
spot, had, it appears, been carried away into 
Assyria. f But the sanctuary still existed, and 
aseroih were to be seen there. Josiah had all these 
burnt and destroyed, and he even ordered the 
tombs upon the neighbouring heights to be ran- 
sacked, and the bones of those buried in them to 
be burnt upon the altar in order to pollute it. 

The rest of Samaria was also visited and purified. 
The bamoth were swept away, and human bones 
burnt there. The priests who still attended these 
places of worship were slain and burnt upon the 
altars where they offered sacrifice.^ In Judah, 
Josiah had shown much less severity, but in Judah 
he had to do with what was after all an irregular 
worship of Iahveh, whereas here it was sheer 

Acts of this kind lead one to suppose that the 
sovereignty of Josiah extended in some respects 
to the territory of the ancient kingdom of the 
North. § Jeremiah is constantly harping upon a 
restoration of Israel, converted and brought back 
to the one sanctuary of Zion.|| We must believe, 

* See 2 Kings, ch. xvii. v. 28. 
•f Hosea, ch. x. v. 6. 

J 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 19-20. Compare 1 Kings, ch. xiii. v. 2 
§ Ewald, Gesch des V. I., iii. p. 690. See below, p. 224. 
I Jeremiah, ch. iii. v. 12 and following; ch. xxxi. v. 1 and 
ollowing. Note particularly Jeremiah, ch. xli. v. 5. 


in fact, that, if the kingdom of Judah had lasted, 
he would have reconstituted Israelitish unity, with 
Jerusalem this time as capital. It is fortunate 
that this perspective was not realised. It is the 
programme carried out by the Asmoneans five 
hundred years later, and if Israel had no other title 
to glory than the existence of this small state, its 
place in the world would be a very small one. 
The ideal of the prophets of the old school, 
essentially humanitarian and cosmopolitan, was the 
true one. We have seen that Jeremiah remained 
partially a stranger to it. The movement over 
which Josiah presided, relating especially to the 
worship and the liturgy, would have carried Israel 
clean away from its true vocation, if Nebuchad- 
nezzar had not come, like Titus at a later date, 
and made the direction of the great idealists 
absolutely preponderant. Twice it was the fate 
of Israel to owe its salvation to that which is the 
ruin of others, and to be recalled, by the crushing 
of its petty worldly hopes, to a sense of its great 
duties towards humanity 



All these reforms of Josiah were effected in 
execution of a law of Iahveh, supposed to have 
been revealed to Moses. Before the reign of 
Josiah mention had frequently been made of a 
law or Thora of Iahveh, embodying the whole of 
His wishes, His compact, so to speak, with Israel. 
The compilation of the so-called Jehovist Sacred 
History contained a small code of this kind called 
the Book of the Alliance (Exodus, ch. xxi.-xxiii.),* 
conceived especially from the point of view of the 
kingdom of Israel, and supposed to have been 
revealed on Sinai. The Elohist version contained 
analogous moral directions (what is called the 
Decalogue, Exodus, ch. xx.),t of a more general 
character, also supposed to have been revealed on 
Sinai. The two brief religious codes were put 
together, and thus completed each other in the 
combined text which, as I believe, was compiled 

* See vol. ii. p. 304 and following. 

f See vol. ii. p. 334 and following. ' 


in the reign of Hezekiah. In the temple also there 
were formed, probably in the time of Hezekiah, a 
species of decretals attributed from that time to 
Moses,* and relating to certain special points, for 
instance the regulations concerning lepers and the 
list of unclean animals. There were, moreover, 
moral poems, Psalms, for which it was claimed 
that they epitomised in a few sentences the moral 
teaching of Iahveh. 

All this constituted an ensemble sufficient to 
justify such phrases as " to observe the law of 
Iahveh ... in conformity with the law, that is to 
say, the precepts of Iahveh." There was not, 
however, any book which could exactly be called 
the Thora. We must remember, moreover, that 
the ancient Sacred History had a very limited 
circulation, that perhaps only one copy of it was 
then in existence, that this book was at the period 
in question like the stela of stone, a thing without 
a duplicate. As I have already said, they did not 
know what it was to re-copy. When a book had 
to be re-copied a fresh book was produced by 
means of additions to, subtractions from, and com- 
binations of the original text. Among the inscrip- 
tions of Asoka, which are what we should call 
posters, and which one would expect to find all 
the same, there are not two alike. Thus ancient 
Sacred History was almost unknown. The in- 

* Deuteronomy, cb. xxiv. v. 8. See above, p. 63 and following. 


tention of the pietist party being to effect a great 
change, their plan consisted not so much in 
drawing from obscurity the legislative portions of 
the ancient text, as in composing a fresh text into 
which the ancient precepts would be incorporated 
in a manner more suited to the ideas of the time. 

The need for such a book had been particularly 
felt since the religious activity of those who sur- 
rounded Josiah had so perfected and completed 
religion. What was wanted was a book summing 
up all the legislative ideal of the theocratic school, 
the rules of a state perfect in the sight of lahveh. 
Of course, the revelation of this code was attributed 
to Moses, in accordance with an idea which dated 
back from the time of the earliest traditions of 
Israel. But the revelation of Sinai (or of Horeb, 
as it was then called * ) was regarded as complete 
and finaLf So there came to be imagined a second 
revelation more comprehensive than the first, which 
lahveh had made to Moses beyond Jordan, in the 
plain of Arboth Moab, before the solemn moment 

* Horeb is foreign to the Jehovist and the Elohist. The passages 
Exodus, chap. iii. v. 1 ; ch. xvii. v. 6 ; ch. xxxiii. V. 6, seem to 
come from B. It is in the legend of Elijah (1 King?, ch. xix. 
v. 8) that we find Horeb figuring as the " Mountain of God." 
After a certain epoch Horeb supplanted Sinai, and the Deuterono- 
mist adopted this tradition. The name of Horeb in 1 Kings, 
ch. viii. v. 9, is a Deuteronomical correction. The modern com- 
positions follow Deuteronomy. 

f Deuteronomy, ch v. v. 2, 4 ; ch. ix. v. 8. 

THE NE W THORA. 1 7 1 

of entering the promised land. Very few persons 
were in a position to raise a capital objection whicli 
would have consisted in confronting the new text 
with the old. The new revelation was not, more- 
over, inconsistent with the ancient one ; it was 
held to be only the conclusion and the summary of 
it.* In fine, the persons who were familiar with 
the ancient books and who might have challenged 
comparison with them were probably accomplices 
in the pious scheme from which the new text was 
evolved. Not to speak of Jeremiah, who appears 
to have been the moving spirit in the whole of 
this deception, we find among the prime actors, 
Hilkiah, the chief of the priests, the scribe Shap- 
han, son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, two impor- 
tant personages, Ahikam, son of another Shaphan, 
and Achbor, son of Micaiah, a royal officer named 
Asaiah, and lastly Huldah the prophetess, wife of 
the keeper of the wardrobe, Skallum, the son of 
Tikvah, son of Harhas. 

So upon a certain day in the eighteenth year 
of the reign of Josiah (622 B.c.),t the king being 
twenty-five years old, the scribe Shaphan, son of 
Azaliah, came to the temple to see after the ac- 

* Deuteronomy, ch. i. v. 6 ; ch. iv. v. 10, 15; ch. v. v. 2, and 

especially ch. xxviii. v. 69. Deuteronomy presupposes the know- 
ledge of the whole history of Moses, and even of patriarchal history 
as it is given in the most ancient books. 

+ ? Kings, ch. xxii. v. 3 and following. Compare ch. xxiii, 
v. 23. 


counts of the work being executed there, and to 
arrange upon this point with Hilkiah. When matters 
were settled, the priest confided to him in the most 
singular way : " I have found the book of the law 
in the house of the Lord." 

Hilkiah at the same time gave the book to 
Shaphan, who read it. The latter, after he had made 
his report upon the works to the king, added that 
he had read a book given him by the priest Hil- 
kiah, and he in turn read it to the king, who, when 
he heard the words of the book of the law and the 
threats which accompanied it, rent his garments, 
and said to Hilkiah, and to Ahikam, and to Achbor, 
and to Shaphan the scribe, and to Azaiah, " Gro ye, 
enquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and 
for all Judah, concerning the words of this book 
which is found ; for great is the wrath of the Lord 
which is kindled against us, because our fathers 
have not hearkened unto the words of this book." 
The king had no doubts as to its authenticity, but 
as it is clear that since the accession of Manas seh, 
at all events, matters had not been treated quite so 
rigorously, he asked himself whether Jahveh would 
repent Him of His threats, and whether it was 
worth while to become converted, inasmuch as the 
mischief was done. The envoys of Josiah went to 
consult Huldah the prophetess, who lived at Jeru- 
salem, in the quarter called Misné, and expounded 
the matter to her ; the prophetess, at one with 
Jeremiah, replied that Iahveh was justly ^irrita ted, 


but that He would be appeased by a return to the 
strict observation of the law.* 

The new code was adopted as the programme of 
the reformed Iahveism, which the pietists of the 
new school desired to introduce. According to the 
narrative of the Book of Kings, Josiah assembled 
all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and had the words 
of the book of the compact found in the temple 
read to them. The king, standing up on the plat- 
form, proclaimed the covenant with Iahveh, con- 
sisting in following His statutes, " with all their 
heart and all their soul, in keeping His command- 
ments and His testimonies and His statutes, as they 
are written in this book." All the people made the 
covenant, and Israel was anew consecrated to 
Iahveh, as it was believed to have been in time 
of Moses and of Joshua. 

We shall never know with the precision which 
our historical habits demand the details of this 
occurrence. The one thing certain is that we 
possess the volume so opportunely discovered by 
Hilkiah. It is the work, perfectly homogeneous and 
very well composed, which extends from verse 45 
of chap. iv. of the section of Sacred History called 

* This is assuredly what Jeremiah would have replied (Frag- 
ment, ch. iii. and iv. v. 1-4). The author of the book of Kings, 
persuaded that the decreed Iahveh has been pronounced since 
Manasseh's time (2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 26; ch. xxiv. v. 3,4) gives 
another version. All the evil foretold will come to pass; but 
Josiah having humiliated himself before Iahveh, these evils will 
not occur till after his death. 


Deuteronomy by the Greek translators, up to the 
end of chap, xxviii. of the same section.* 

The code in question claims to be the supreme 
though not the only code of Israel. The covenant 
of Sinai or of Horeb still holds ; t the law revealed 
at Arboth Moab is merely a new publication of it ; 
but this new publication renders the first useless. 
The basis of the covenant of Iahveh with the people 
is the Decalogue, as the ancient text gave it.j: This 
important document is reproduced with very trifling 
alterations. In respect to the laws, the new code 
makes very trifling innovations. In nearly all 
parts it merely repeats the prescriptions of the 
Book of the Alliance. § It assuredly copied its list 
of clean and unclean animals from a more ancient 
text, || which it corrected and shortened. Upon a 

* Compare 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 24, and Deuteronomy, ch. 
xviii. v. 9 and following. 

■f Deuteronomy, ch. v. in several passages. 

J Deuteronomy, ch. v. v. 6. and following; compare Exodus, 
ch. xx. v. 2 and following. 

§ Thus the limitation of the right of pledging (Deuteronomy, 
ch. xxiv. v. 12; Exodus, ch. xxii. v. 25); the prohibition of usury 
among brothers (Deuteronomy, ch. xxiii. v. 20-21; Exodus, ch. 
xxii. v. 24); the right of freedom by purchase for the slave 
(Deuteronomy, ch. xv. v. 12-18; Exodus, ch. xxi. v. 1 and follow- 
ing) ; the right of asylum (Deuteronomy, ch. xix. v. 5; Exodus, 
ch. xxi. v. j.3); the prohibition to cook the kid in the mother's 
milk (Deuteronomy, ch. xiv. v. 21; Exodus, ch. xxiii. v. 19); the 
motive of benevolence towards the stranger derived from the 
sojourn in Egypt (Deuteronomy, ch. x. v. 19; Exodus, ch. xxiii. 
V. 9). See below, pp. 186, x88. 

U Leviticus, ch. xi. The prohibition of heterogeneous mixtures 


mass of casuistical points it merely abridges earlier 
regulations, and in the case of lepers,* it refers 
back to a code which, as a matter of fact, is to be 
found elsewhere. t 

What is entirely the author's own is the Schema, 
the corner stone of Judaism, the brief formula of 
his Credo all down the ages 4 

In taking this precept literally and in executing 
it from a purely material point of view, Judaism 
displayed a certain historical sagacity. The Thora 
discovered (that is to say, fabricated) under Josiah 
was the basis of the special religion which was 
founded in the eighth and seventh centuries b.c. in 
Palestine. This Thora was the worst enemy of the 
universal religion which the prophets of the eighth 
century had in their dreams ; Jesus could only 
cause the spirit of the great prophets to triumph 
by crushing it and by denying it outright. But 
human things are a compound of matter and mind. 
Liberty and the chain, that which excites and that 
which restrains, the sublime and the commonplace, 
are equally necessary in the construction of a 
general whole which is to endure. But for the pre- 
cision of the Thora, the ardent preachings of the 
prophets would have remained fruitless ; they would 

has also an older aspect in Leviticus (ch. xix. y. 19) than in 
Deuteronomy (ch. xxii. v. 9, 11). 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xxiv. v 8. 

f Leviticus, ch. xiii. and xiv. 

J Deuteronomy, ch. vi. v. 4 and following. Compare Exodus, 
ch. xiii. v. 9-13. 


have been like so many other manifestations of the 
human mind, which produced a great effect in their 
time, but of which the very trace is lost. 

TheXahveh of the Thora conceived in the reign of 
Josiah is, like that of Jeremiah, at once the god of 
heaven and earth and the God of Israel. He is at 
once the universal God, and as such absolutely just, 
and a provincial God, immensely unjust.* When 
his people's interests are concerned, He is egotistical 
and immoral as a return for a fidelity which has 
little that is meritorious about it, seeing that it is 
interested, He promises Israel the height of human 
happiness, which happiness is to consist in possess- 
ing great and beautiful cities which he has not 
built, provisions which he has not stored up, cisterns 
which he has not dug, vineyards and olive groves 
which he has not planted. f These, the customary 
rewards of bravery and labour, are here the recom- 
pense of a theological virtue, the belief in a one 
God. Iahveh is faithful ; He keeps his compact ; 
He loves Israel; He has sworn it, and that is 
enough. It is not any merit of Israel which has 
won Him these favours ; it is the free choice of 

The great offence is to attribute anything to one- 
self. Whoso says, " It is by my own strength that 
I have got all this," is detracting from the glory of 

* See especially Deuteronomy, ch. x. One might think one was 
reading Jeremiah. 

\ Deuteronomy, ch. yi. v. 10 and following. 

THE NE W THORA. 1 7 7 

Ialiveli. This jealous God gives all things to those 
who serve Him except what is impossible ; that is 
to say, immortality. They have life, the rapid 
multiplication of their race, perfect prosperity, 
rain in due season, all the good things of the earth;* 
the world exists for them alone : " And thou shalt 
consume all the people which the Lord thy God 
shall deliver thee ; thine eye shall have no pity 
upon them."t 

A legislation founded upon such premises as 
these could not be a tolerant one. The measures 
of precaution for maintaining Iahveist Monotheism 
bear the impress of extreme ferocity. In this 
respect the Deuteronomical code has not been 
exceeded even by that of the Dominican inquisition 
in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Exter- 
mination of the unbelievers, % prohibition from 
having any contact with them, prohibition of mixed 
marriages upon the presumption that religious infi- 
delity is the consequence of feminine seduction, the 
merciless crushing of every idolatrous object, 
absolute iconoclasm. " You must exterminate the 
evil from amongst you," such is the bloodthirsty 
formula in which these decrees are couched. The 
accusations for crime against Iahveism involve the 
most terrible responsibilities. A prophet, even if a 

* Deuteronomy, ch. ix. v. 1 and following. 

f Deuteronomy, ch. vii. v. 16. Numbers, ch. xiv. v. 9, is still 
more emphatic. Compare Numbers, ch. xxiv. v. 8. 
\ Deuteronomy, ch. vii. 

VOL. Ill N 


worker of miracles, who should preach the abandon- 
ing of Iahveh, must be put to death.* More terrible 
still is the case of a city from which comes one 
who attempts to seduce people from the worship 
of Iahveh. The inquiry having been made, and 
the accusation found to be true, " thou shalt surely 
smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of 
the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is 

therein." t 

One shudders at the thought that, in inquiries 
of this kind, all that was required was the denuncia- 
tion of two or three witnesses, with the somewhat 
shadowy security that these witnesses would cast 
the first stone .J Two persons who had come to an 
understanding might destroy a man without appeal. 
In the seventh century b.c. it is probable that these 
texts did not lead to any one's death ; they were 
Utopian ideas, presupposing a good deal of simple- 
minded impudence in those who invented them ; 
they were not real laws, regularly applied. It is 
bad enough that there should have existed fanatics 
capable of conceiving such bad ideas. Two 
thousand years later these mischief-making texts 
were destined to bear fruit, and they sent to the 
stake, more especially, a host of unhappy Israelites. 
Our Western world, with its clumsy good nature, 
could not understand that, by simple figure of 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xiii. v. 1 and following. 
\ Deuteronomy, ch. xiii. v. 15-16. 
} Deuteronomy, ch. xvii. v. 6-7. 


speech and by hyperbole, such, horrors could have 
been put to paper, with the arrière-pensée that 
there would be none to apply them, or to take them 
seriously. The terrible Directorium Inquisitorum 
of Nicholas Bymeric follows Deuteronomy word for 
word, and this time thousands of unhappy beings 
were victims of the culpable levity of this dreamer. 

The judicial institutions were, moreover, the most 
defective part of these ancient codes. The ordeal 
which was the base of the book of the Alliance is 
not commanded in the new legislation; but in cases 
of difficulty, it was enjoined to go to Jerusalem and 
lay the matter before the Lévites and " the judge 
that shall be in those days," and whoso did not 
obey should be put to death.* Other texts prove, 
moreover, that the ordeal, especially that of the 
bitter waters for the woman accused of adultery, 
continued in use.f 

The conception of the royalty is just such as 
would be formed by an anav, by an êbion, opposed 
to display and pomp. The king will be selected by 
Iahveh from among his brethren in Israel. % The 
luxury of horses is pointed out as a danger ; if the 
king gave himself over to it, he would be capable, 
in order to procure them, to take the people back 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xvii. v. 8-12. This is intentionally left 
doubtful, and seems worded purposely to increase the royal power 
and create a jurisdiction for the sovereign. 

I Numbers, ch. v. v. 11 and following, an ancient law. 

\ Deuteronomy, ch. xvii. v. 14-20. 

n 2 


into Egypt, and that is a road which must not be 
travelled over again.* The king must not keep up a 
large harem. He must not possess too much gold 
or silver. He must avoid pride and not despise his 
brethren if he would enjoy a long reign. He must 
procure a copy of this law, the text of which he 
will get from the Lévite priests. He must have it 
ever before his eyes, and read it so that he may 
observe it in every particular. The spirit which the 
law breathes is an anti-military one. The pietist 
desires to have a king after his own image. But 
this is very inconsistent on his part. The king is 
especially instituted in the event of war.f Now war 
is an affair of race. The military temperament is a 
matter of hereditary affinities and of education. A 
military caste is not going to let itself be lectured 
by saints; a king cannot take the programme of his 
house either from democrats or bigots. 

All the religious innovations of Josiah are to be 
found in the code which was the work of his ad- 
visers. The improbability and the lack of local 
colouring would have been too glaring if Moses, 
before the crossing of the Jordan, had designated 
f Jerusalem as the only place of worship. Upon the 
other hand, the singular invention by which an 
attempt was made to render the unity of the place 

* An allusion to the attempts at an Egyptian alliance, which 

was the predominating idea during the reign of Josiah, and to 
which Jeremiah was always opposed. 

f 1 Samuel, ch. viii. v. 20. , 


of worship, the fiction of the tabernacle, conceivable 
from the Mosaic epoch was not yet devised. The 
author of the Deuteronomical code makes use of a 
vague expression: " Unto the place which the Lord 
your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put 
His name there, even unto His habitation."* This 
place will be the only one where the Israelite 
may make his burnt offerings, his sacrifices, 
his tithes, his firstfruits, his votive and spon- 
taneous offerings, the firstborn of his flocks and 
herds. The three great festivals of the year are to 
be celebrated there by him and his family, with the 
Lévites, before Iahveh.f As I have already said, 
the world to which such a code adapted itself was a 
very little one. 

The spectacle of a whole family moving about 
with its offerings, its cooking utensils, its following 
of Lévites and of poor people, must have been a 
very strange and touching oue.J The festivals 
round about the temple, full of pious joy and of 
trust in Iahveh, left a precious recollection behind 
them. At Jerusalem the priests of the temple 
joined in them, and upon these occasions the 
Lévites ate their fill, which did not often happen to 

It is evident that such a life of constant tra- 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xii. v. 5 and following. 
\ Deuteronomy, ch. xvi. 

% See especially ch. xvii. Compare ch. xii. v. 12; ch. xiv. v. 29; 
ch. xvi. v. 11, 14. 


veiling could not have long been the rule of any 
society or agglomeration of men. "We must not lose 
sight of the fact that these laws represent a state of 
things which the man of God would have liked to 
see established much more than a real state of 
things which actually lasted. We must also re- 
member that Josiah died in 609, that his death was 
followed by an anti-pietist reaction, which only 
ended with the kingdom of Judah, so that the 
beautiful ideal of which the author of Deuteronomy 
dreamed scarcely lasted thirteen years, and as- 
suredly more than thirteen years would have been 
required to put such an abnormal regime into 
regular working order. 

The internal worship of the temple of Jerusalem 
does not appear to have undergone many changes. 
The theory of the sacrifices in Deuteronomy is of 
the simplest description. They are of two kinds : 
holocausts, in which the victim is consumed ; sacri- 
fices, in which the victim is killed, and then eaten 
at the family board.* It was felt desirable to lay 
down rules for the division of the meat between 
the priest and the person who offered the sacrifice, 
but without entering into the details which were 
afterwards deemed necessary. t The predominating 
thoughts of the author of Deuteronomy, though to 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xii. v. 11 and following; ch. xiv. v. 22 and 
following; ch. xv. v. 19 and following; ch. xvi., xvii., etc. 

t Leviticus, ch. i.-ix., xii., xvi., etc. Numbers, ch. xxviii., 
xxix., etc. 


a high degree sacerdotal, are not exclusively litur- 
gical. They are above all moral and puritanical. 
The diviners, the sorcerers, the false prophets, 
religious prostitution, the erection of the aseroth, 
the incisions on the forehead and the habit of 
cropping the hair, and especially the horrible 
practice of passing the children through the fire, 
these are what he abominates.* This was equiva- 
lent to taking up, but with additional severity, the 
programme of reform so tentatively initiated during 
the reign of Hezekiah. 

The situation created for the Lévites by the inno- 
vations of Josiah led to the most singular conse- 
quences. In the eyes of the author of the Deutero- 
nomical code,t Lévite is synonymous with priest; 
his favourite expression is " Lévite ; " he has no 
idea of a hierarchy among the cohanim. The 
high priest evidently had not yet come into ex- 
istence^ All the Lévites, according to the present 
codes, officiate at the altar. The Lévite who thinks 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xii. v. 31 ; ch. xiv. v. 20 and following ; 
ch. xvi. v. 21; ch. xviii. v. 9 and following 

•f Deuteronomy, ch. xvii. v. 9, 18; ch. xviii. v. 1 and following; 
ch. xxi. v. 5; ch. xxiv. v. 8; ch. xxvii. v. 9. Deuteronomy, ch. x. 
v. 6-9, appears to be an interpretation. Compare Deuteronomy, 
ch. xxxi. v. 25. 

X D"1^n D'Orun. See especially ch. xii. v. 10 and following; 
ch. xviii. v. 6 and following. 

§ The compiler of the extant books of the Kings, which is 
posterior to the captivity, places by anticipation high priests in the 
earliest periods (Tehorada, Hilkiah, Seiaiah). 


fit to come from his village and dwell at Jerusalem 
takes rank at once among his brethren, serves at 
the altar, receives his share like the rest, inde- 
pendently of the price which he may have obtained 
from his patrimony.* These Lévites thus formed a 
hungry sacerdotal host, congregated partly in 
Jerusalem, partly in the small houses outside, and 
living like parasites on the remainder of the nation. 
The author of the code of Josiah has a liking for 
this class of disinherited persons, and he would 
have the community adopt thenuf The tithe and 
the firstfruits are to be consumed in Jerusalem. 
The case in which the giver may reside too far 
from Jerusalem is provided for; he may realise his 
tithe in cash, which he will then spend in Jerusa- 
lem, always bearing in mind the Lévites .% A tri- 
ennial tithe (a kind of alms) must in addition be 
bestowed in the villages, so that the Lévites, the 
strangers, the orphans, and the widows may eat and 
be filled. § The socialistic character of all these 
measures will strike the most superficial of readers 
at a glance. It must always be borne in mind that 
these measures are conceived for a State of very 
small size. 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xviii. v. 6-8. The distinction referred to in 
2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 9, was perhaps a transitory measure, 
f Deuteronomy, ch. xii. v. 12 and following. 
\ Deuteronomy, ch. xiv. v. 22 and following. 
§ Deuteronomy, ch. xiv. v. 20-29 ; ch. xxvi. v. 12. 



The fixed opinion of the modern day being that 
the best religious code is liberty — inasmuch as 
creeds are strictly the domain of the conscience of 
each one of us — these ancient religious legislations 
of the East present themselves to our judgment 
under very unfavourable circumstances. The civil 
and political side, the moral, social, and religious 
side, are all mixed up. But, whether rightly or 
wrongly, we do not admit that the State should 
concern itself with moral, social, or religious ques- 
tions. Charity and right appear to us as two dis- 
tinct domains. Perhaps it is as well that they 
should now be separated, but it is assuredly good 
that they should formerly have been allied. Force 
was the sole ruler of primitive humanity. The 
weak did not find any advocate until much later. 
We now believe that the oldest advocates of the 
oppressed were the prophets of Israel, and that is 
why we accord them so eminent a place in tha 
history of civilization. 


The code conceived under Josiali, which is known 
as Deuteronomy, is the first of any extent in which 
an attempt was made to establish a system of 
guarantees for the weak, at the expense of the rich 
and of the strong. No doubt the Book of the Alliance, 
anterior by two centuries to Deuteronomy, con- 
tained, side by side with more or less barbarous 
directions, some singularly minute rules as to 
cleanliness, humanity, and politeness. The book of 
Deuteronomy goes still further in the same direc- 
tion. Never was love for the humble and the 
neglected carried so far. "We find it making pro- 
vision for the poor in all the acts of religion. It 
shows affection for the Lévite, for the Lévite is a 
poor man. The widow, the orphan, the stranger 
isolated in the land, are never overlooked in its 

In regard to usury, Deuteronomy docs not do 
much more than reproduce the Book of the Alli- 
ance. Usury is absolutely forbidden between 
Israelites ; it is allowed, and even encouraged, 
towards the stranger, f Usury, to be exact, would 
have no place in a true Israelite society, for the 
faithful Israelite, specially protected by Iahveh, 

* Ch. xxiv. v. 17-18. This passage is taken from the Book of 
the Alliance, Exodus, ch. xxii. v. 20 and following; ch. xxiii. 
v. 9. 

\ Deuteronomy, ch. xv. v. 1 and following. Compare ch. xxiii. 
v. 20-21. 


would be secure from the greatest of all misfor- 
tunes, that of having need to borrow.* 

The code as to slaveryf, taken nearly entirely 
from the Book of the Alliance, adds to the direc- 
tions of the ancient code rules equally inspired by 
a sentiment of humanity. The right of asylum is 
developed so as to create a counterpoise for the 
cruel law of blood for blood 4 The fatal confi- 
dence which all the ancient forms of justice have 
in evidence is attenuated in a manner which is 
assuredly very insufficient. § Then, again, the 
"Levirat," an institution of which this legislator 
alone gives the theory, || in conformity moreover 
with the old Semitic customs,^} implies a regard for 
the rights of woman very rare in antiquity. 

In a word, the code of Iahveh, discovered by 
Hilkiah, is one of the boldest attempts ever made 
to protect the weak. It is the programme of a sort 
of theocratic socialism, the aim of which is mutual 
solidarity, which ignores the individual, which 
reduces almost to zero civil and military order, 
which suppresses luxury and lucrative industry 
and trade. The restrictions placed upon the right 
of accepting pledges,** go far beyond the very 

# Psalm xxxvii. v. 21. See Deuteronomy, ch. xv. T. 4-11. 

j" Deuteronomy, ch. xv. v. 12-18. 

\ Deuteronomy, ch. xix. v. 1-13. 

§ Deuteronomy, ch. xix. v. 15-21. Compare ch. xxi. v. 1-9. 

Deuteronomy, ch. xxv. v. 5 and following. 
% See the narratives relating to Onan, Thamar, and Boaz. 
** Deuteronomy, ch. xxiv. v 6, 10 and following. 


humane regulations to be found in the Bocik of the 
Alliance. The passage relating to the hired servant 
is an excellent one (see Deuteronomy, ch. xxiv. 
v. 14-15). Even as far back as this, special efficacy 
is attributed to the poor man's curse ; and the way 
is paved for the admission that his prayer has a 
special value in the sight of God — an idea from 
which the Middle Ages will deduce social and 
economical consequences of such gravity. The in- 
junction not to muzzle the ox while he is treading 
out the corn,* belongs to the same order of ideas 
which modern socialism has pounced upon as a 
weapon, only because wholesome political economy 
has failed to avail itself of them. The eliminations 
effected in the ranks by the priest before a battle, t 
are one of the most delightfully ingenuous inci- 
dents which it is possible to imagine. The rules of 
war for the besieged city showed, taking into 
account the cruelty of old, an advance in civiliza- 
tion. The rights of the beautiful woman made 
captive are conceived with tact.! The directions 
relative to the man who has two wives, § to the man 
who has just taken a wife, || to the rebellious son,^[ 
to adultery, rape, birds' nests,** certain instructions 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xxiv. v. 14 and following. 

"f Deuteronomy, ch. xx. v. 1-9. Compare ch. xxiv. v. 5. 

\ Deuteronomy, ch. xxi. v. 10-14. 

§ Deuteronomy, ch. xxi. v. 15-17. 

Deuteronomy, ch. xxiv. v. 5. 
^i Deuteronomy, ch. xxi. v. 18-20. 
** Deuteronomy, c\\ xxi!. 


as to cleanliness, and especially the reason which is 
assigned for it,* the curious directions as to vir- 
ginity, t had in their time more or less good reason. 
The cause of manslaughter is very wisely provided 
for.| The rule as to fugitive slaves § seemed 
anarchical to modern states, which are supposed 
to be liberal. The gathering of grapes and 
corn would almost seem too liberal in certain 
countries. || The capital penalty is dealt out 
unsparingly, as in all ancient legislations, but 
corporal punishments are limited,^" and the whole 
code testifies to an instinctive horror of the 
shedding of blood. 

What can be more thoughtful than the counsel 
to leave a few sheaves when harvesting, not to 
strip the branches of the olive-tree quite bare, and 
to leave a few gleanings in the vineyard, so that 
the poor may have his share.** The author of this 
code assuredly loved Israel only; but with what 
deep affection he did so ! He understood nothing 
about liberty ; in his idea, the different members of 
a society guarantee one another mutually, and are 
all mutually responsible ; but how fine was his 
conception of the happiness of brethren dwelling 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xxiii. v. 10 and following, 
t Deuteronomy, ch. xxii. 
\ Deuteronomy, en. xxii. v. 8. 
§ Deuteronomy, ch. xxiii. v. 16-17 
Deuteronomy, ch. xxiii. v. 25-26. 
IT Deuteronomy, ch. xxv. v. 1 and following. 
** Leviticus, ch. xix. v. 9; ch. xxiii. v. 22 seems anterior. 


together in unity, and with what heartfelt joy 
must the wealthy bands of peasants, bringing 
to the temple their fruits, have sung the 
Psalm cxxxiii., beginning, " Behold ! How good 
and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell to- 
gether in unity," the text of which is much 

In presence of so much that is good and beauti- 
ful, we forget certain blots, a tiresome and prolix 
tone of preaching, various cruel instructions 
which, let me repeat, were not applied,* and 
abuses of the principle of solidarity, which would 
spoil the book if, by a fortunate contradiction, the 
author himself, when he is not blinded by his 
Monotheistic frenzy, did not protest against this 
principle. The fathers will no longer be put to 
death because of their children, or the children 
because of their parents ; each one will be put to 
death for his own sin.f This is a great advance 
upon the Decalogue, { where God visits the sins 
of the fathers upon the children even to the third 
and fourth generation. The old principle of 
reversibility lost ground. It must be remembered 
that what responds chronologically in Greece to the 
Deuteronomical code is the legislation of the 

* The death of Jesus was not the consequence of the Deutero- 
nomical principle, inasmuch as He was crucified, not stoned. 

■f Deuteronomy, ch. xxiv. v. 16. Compare Jeremiah, ch. xxxi 
v. 29. 

\ Exodus, ch. xx. v. 5. 


mythical Draco. The Hebrew code of the year 
622 contains errors, with many fanatical pages 
which one would like to see effaced, but it also 
contains clauses which might excite the envy of 
modern communities. This code was in its time a 
law of progress. 

Who was the author of a book the godfathers 
of which are so well known to us, and the paternity 
of which is, as if designedly, concealed. It is, in 
the critical view, a subject for great astonishment 
that the name of Jeremiah should not be pronounced 
in ch. xxii. of the Second Book of Kings in respect 
to the appearance of the Thora. From beginning 
to end, this Thora is instinct with the spirit of 
Jeremiah; they are his ideas, his style.* The 
Deuteronomical Thora is the complete realisation 
of the ideal preached by the prophet of Anathoth. 
How comes it that Jeremiah does not figure in the 
narrative of the discovery of the book when seven 
or eight other persons are mentioned ? Among 

* These analogies are too well known to need being set forth in 
detail. It is thought sometimes that it was Jeremiah who imitated 
Deuteronomy, but that is against all probability. When Jeremiah 
quotes a Thora he is in harmony with Deuteronomy; but there is 
always the Book of the Alliance behind. Deuteronomy was only 
in the eyes of Jeremiah, and is only in reality, the Book of the 
Alliance amplified. Compare Exodus ch. xxiv. v. 7; Deuteronomy, 
ch. xxviii. v. 69; Jeremiah, ch. xi. v. 1-8. Compare also Jeremiah, 
ch. xxxiv. v. 8-22 with Exodus, ch. xxi. v. 2-6, and Deuteronomy, 
ch. xv. v. 12-19, not omitting Leviticus, ch. xxv. v. 39-46. The 
resemblance of Jeremiah, ch. vii. v. 23, and Deuteronomy, ch. xxvi. 
v. 17-18, ch. xxix. v. 12, is uncertain. 


them tliere is at least one, Ahikam, who appears 
elsewhere among the most intimate friends and 
protectors of Jeremiah.* How is it that, in order 
to get information as to the threats contained in 
the book, the prophetess Huldah is consulted 
instead of Jeremiah, who was so well known, who 
was the most active agent of the reformat who 
went out each day to the gates of the city to 
preach, who ruled it over the king and his officers. % 
That the code which embodied his ideas should 
have been promulgated without being communi- 
cated to him is a most improbable occurrence. If 
this code was published in agreement with him, it 
was because he was altogether, or nearly altogether, 
the author of it. If no historical text were there 
to tell us that the Smalkalde articles are the work 
of Luther, we should be entitled to affirm that 
these articles, formally summing up the ideas of 
Luther, were not published without his know- 
ledge, r' 

The priest Hilkiah, the inventor of the new 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxvi., xxxvi., xxxix.-xl. The tone of the 
narrative in the episode of the invention of the Thora, and in the 
episode of the roll of Jeremiah, burnt and written out arresh, is 
quite the same. 

■f It has been objected that Jeremiah is not named in the book, 
whereas Isaiah is. But it must be remembered that the last 
reviser of the book of Kings is the same who edited Jeremiah ; he 
would not like there to be repetitions in the two books, and he 
placed all that concerned the biography of Jeremiah in the book 
named after him. 

\ Jeremiah, ch. xvii. v. 19 and following. 


Thora, is, according to some, identical with the 
priest Hilkiah, the father of Jeremiah, who in 622 
was still young. The preoccupation which the 
Deuteronomical code reveals with regard to the 
Lévite priests reduced to destitution, and especially 
with regard to the Lévites who come from the 
provincial sanctuaries to settle at Jerusalem,* 
would quite tally with a priest of Anathoth, who 
claimed to treat upon equal terms with the other 
ministers of the Temple. But Hilkiah was a very 
common name, and the identity of the two is not 
probable. We have therefore no means for tear- 
ing aside the veil with which this matter was 
concealed. The portion of pious fraud which it im- 
plied led to combinations which put us off the 
scent, and which only reveal themselves by im- 
probabilities and lack of logic. All that we can 
say is that the code designated by the Alexandrian 
translators as Deuteronomy was composed in the 
time of Jeremiah, among the associates of Jeremiah 
and according to the ideas of Jeremiah. 

Let me add that the book of Jeremiah contains 
a fragment f which seems to be the promulgation 
of the recently discovered code. As a general rule, 
the strophies or surates of Jeremiah appear to be 
either anterior to the reform of Josiah or posterior 
to the death of that prince. One or two fragments 
at the outside appear to be of between the years 

* Deuteronomy, cl . xviii. v. 6-8. 
"f Jeremiah, cli. xi. 



622 and 609,* and it is easy to conceive that 
during this period of full triumph the prophet 
should have broken off his threats, and have left 
the supposed revealed text to speak for itself. 

The little book so cleverly put forward met with 
complete success. It stood out as a code by itself, 
complete, and embodying what had hitherto been 
scattered about in quite fragmentary form. The 
number of the copies, of this Sacred History was so 
limited that no one raised objections, which, in 
a period of greater publicity, would have been 
crushing. To those who were familiar with the 
parts of the Iahveist legislation already in existence 
the answer was given that there were two distinct 
revelations made to Moses ; one upon Sinai or 
Horeb, the other in the plain of Moab, before the 
going over Jordan. These ancient centuries must 
not be credited with our critical exigencies. Novelty 
was a cause of strength ; a recently published book 
enjoyed a period of fashion during which it exer- 
cised its maximum effect. This is the explanation 
of all the apocryphal writers : Daniel, Baruch, 
Henock, etc. These books, when they appeared, 
gave more pleasure than the old books, for they 
harmonised more with the sentiments of the time. 
The people were constantly in need of fresh reve- 
lations, and they would not admit that the source 

* For instance, that in which the prophet goes upon each Sabbath 
day to the gate of the children of the people and preaches to them 
about the Sabbath. Ch. xvii. v. 19-27 / 


of them could be exhausted. Jeremiah, if he 
composed Deuteronomy, did not, after all, commit 
a graver offence than those which were reiterated 
very often after him. It is one of the laws of 
religious history that a revelation, a form of 
devotion, a book, a pilgrimage, soon grow old; 
piety is ever in need of something new, and this 
order of things, which is often represented as being 
immutable, is, on the contrary, subject to perpetual 
renewal. The eternal verities are those in respect 
to which our poor humanity is apt to vary the 




The Thora, which composes nearly the whole of the 
section of the Hexateuch now called Deuteronomy, 
was not the only outcome of the great religious 
movement which filled the reign of Josiah. This 
Thora existed at first for some time as a distinct 
book, and then it was thought that isolated the 
publication would be weak, as the Thora pre- 
supposes patriarchal and Mosaic history. The 
effect aimed at by the sudden discovery and the 
separate publication of the book was secured. This 
law of Iahveh, the result of fraud upon the one 
side and of connivance upon the other, had been 
the instrument of the reform. The question now 
was how to maintain it, and, in order to effect 
this, it was natural to place it in the volume of 
sacred history, as if it were the last act in the 
life of Moses before his death beyond Jordan. But 
a grafting operation was necessary, and thus a 
long fragment* was pieced on at the beginning of 

* The four first chapters up to y. 43 of the fourth, from the 
past of the Pentateuch which is called Deuteronomy. 


the book; various additional notes were added to 
the end,* and so were in juxta-position to the 
song of Moses, t a fragment which already formed 
part of the Sacred History. 

Who effected this peculiar operation of piecing 
and joining? It has sometimes been ascribed to 
the author of the new code ; % at other times there 
have appeared reasons for bringing these insertions 
down to the time of Zedekiah.§ The author of 
the reconstruction was, in any event, some one of 
the school of Jerusalem, || and he did not stop here. 
In his desire to give the closing pages of the 
Sacred History a thoroughly edifying character, he 
gravely interpolated the part relating to Josiah, 
inserting in it set speeches supposed to have been 
pronounced by Joshua upon solemn occasions, and 
which display piecings of unmistakable simi- 
larity with the long sermons of the code and the 

* Ch. xxix., xxx., and xxxi., with the exception of a few 
pericopes. Perhaps also the scene on Mounts Ebal and Gerizim, 
ch. xxvii. 

f Deuteronomy, ch. xxxii. 

\ The style is quite the same in each; but there are several 
difficulties of arrangement. 

§ Compare Deuteronomy, ch. iv. v. 29 and following, with Jere- 
miah, ch. xxix. v. 12 and following, and Deuteronomy, ch. iv. 
v. 20, with Jeremiah, ch. xi. v. 4. 
Same passages. 

f See Eeuss, Introduction, pp. 214-216; de Wette, EfoL § 168. 
Denteronomical modifications of the same kind are to he found in 
the other historical books. 


Thus the book of Sacred History, which was 
probably already begun to be called the Thora 
(what had hitherto been the accessory tended more 
and more to become the principal), grew in size 
from century to century, swelling as it went. This 
precious volume, in the state which it had attained 
under Josiah, or, to put the matter in another way, 
as it was at the time of the catastrophe which put 
an end to the kingdom of Judah, comprised about 
two-thirds of its present contents. 

The patriarchal histories which fill what is called 
Genesis were, apart from a few explanatory notes, 
very much as they now read. 

The history of Moses, as it is to be found in 
Exodus, up to ch. xxiv., and in Numbers, from ch. 
xx. to the end, including the two small ancient 
codes, the Book of the Alliance and the Decalogue, 
was in the main as it stands now. Nevertheless, a 
few legends, smacking of the prophetic agada, and 
in most cases duplicating the more ancient texts, 
were still lacking. 

Deuteronomy has undergone very little change. 
The book of Joshua, upon the contrary, will receive 
considerable interpolations after the captivity; 
lastly, there are decisive reasons for bringing down 
till after the captivity what may be called the 
Levitical Pandects, including the latter part of 
Exodus, Leviticus, and the first part of Numbers, 
not to speak of other intercalations. Two capital 
institutions, of which there is no trace either in the 


code of the time of Josiah or in the earlier 
books,* characterise these Levitical additions, that 
is to say, the tabernacle, a singular fiction which 
aimed at conceiving the unity of worship before 
the building of the temple at Jerusalem, and the 
asserted institution of Levitical cities by Joshua. 
Not only does Deuteronomy fail to recognise these 
institutions, but it may be said to exclude them, 
inasmuch as each page of the book implies the 
unity of worship established upon quite different 
bases, t and inasmuch as the rules of charity re- 
lating to the Lévites would not be at all applicable 
to a richly endowed clergy, such as that which 
would be inferred by the 21st chapter of Joshua. 

It would be erroneous, nevertheless, to consider 
all the laws which now compose the Levitical 
Pandects as posterior to the code promulgated 
under Josiah. I have shown % that there were, 
in connection with the temple, a body of small 
codes, a sort of established custom supposed to be 
revealed, § which was not yet embodied in the 
great Thora. The author of the Deuteronomical 
code appears to have been familiar with and to 
have summarised several of these special small 
Thoras. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility 

* It is quite impossible, upon the other hand, to admit that if 
these two institutions had been conceived at the time of Josiah 
Deuteronomy would not have contained some allusion to them. 

\ Deuteronomy, ch. xii. v. 8. 

\ See above, p. 53 and following, and below, p. 169. 

§ Deuteronomy, ch. xxiv. v. 8. 


that, in the time of Josiah, just before or just after 
the compilation of Deuteronomy, several of these 
ecclesiastical capitularies, which were to be the 
basis of a future canon law, were written by some 
one in the sacerdotal world. It is permissible to 
suppose that some of the fragments utilised by the 
code of Hilkiah had not long been written when 
the pious forger made use of them. Thus, for 
instance, the treatise upon vows (nedarim)* the 
code of the nazirs,t all that relates to the ordeal 
of the bitter waters, { an usage already so ancient, 
may date from this period. These small com- 
pilations would thus have been for a long time 
in existence in sporadic form, like so many Extra 
Vagantes, destined to be codified later on. For 
it is most significant that the Levitical code § has 
no unity, whereas Deuteronomy must have been 
written without any break, in the course of a few 

All the works of this period are characterised by 
their exalted piety. The prophetical spirit was in 
the ascendant ; the lay spirit underwent a tempo- 
rary eclipse. It is to this period that we should 
be tempted to attribute the prophetical agadas, a 
body of compositions intended to exalt in the past 
the character of the prophets, to represent it in its 

* Leviticus, ch. xxvii. 

"f Numbers, ch. vi. 

J Numbers, ch. v. v. 11 and following. 

§ Distributed through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Joshua, 


wonder-working and awesome phase, and to place 
it in all respects far above royalty. A legend with 
a fixed date, for instance, is that of the prophet of 
Bethel, who is said to have resisted Jeroboam, to 
have been devoured by a lion, and whose tomb was 
respected by Josiah.* It was supposed that this 
prophet had foretold Josiah, and had announced his 
reforms. All this is set forth in a narrative analo- 
gous to the recitals of the time of the Judges, and 
showing that pietism had not extinguished the taste 
for that which is simple and grand. 

Each prophet thus had his agadic book. These 
prophetic midraschim 9 f words or acts of Nathan the 
prophet, of Gad the seer, of Ahijah the Shilonite, of 
Iddo, of Shemaïah, of Jehu the son of Hanani,{ and 
more generally the acts of the seers, § were analo- 
gous with the Kisas el-anbia, in which the Mussul- 
mans find so much delight, lives of the lower order 
of saints, dear to credulous peoples. In other 
words, there existed, parallel to the books of the 

* 1 Kings, ch. xiii.; 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 15 and following. 

f This word became synonymous with legend. 2 Chronicles, 
ch. ii. xv. 22; ch. xxiv. v. 27. 

I 1 Chronicles, ch. xxix. v. 29; 2 Chronicles, ch. ix. v. 29; 
ch. xii. v. 15; ch. xiii. v. 22; ch. xx. v. 34; ch. xxvi. v. 22; 
ch. xxxii. v. 32; ch. xxxiii. v. 19. It must not be supposed that 
all these midraschim were distinct books. They were the rubrics 
of a history divided by prophets instead of by kings. It is thus 
that we still speak of " the books of Samuel." Compare 1 Chron- 
icles, ch. xxix. v. 29. 

§ D^nn nn (2 Chronicles, ch. xxxiii. v. 18, 19); *1\n is cer- 
tainly meant for D^tri- 


Kings and in some cases tangled up with them,* 
books of the prophets, relating their acts and in 
some cases their sayings, with that indifference to 
chronology and disregard of the reality which has, at 
all times and in all countries, been characteristic of 
the legend. These midraschim were not preserved in 
their original form ; but they possessed considerable 
importance, for they were afterwards introduced 
into the text of historiography properly so called. 
The compiler of the present books of the Kings, after 
the captivity, took these texts, devoid of all exact- 
itude and full of exaggeration, and fused them in his 
narrative, thereby lowering very much the historical 
alloy of the annals of Israel. The result for the 
early history of Israel was very much as if Mero- 
vingian history written after Gregory of Tours 
were regarded as incomplete, and an attempt was 
made to complete it, without regard for contradic- 
tions, with Aimoinus and the poorest of the lives 
of saints. The author of the Chronicles, in the 
second half of the fourth century b.c., was familiar 
with these same prophetical agadas, and doted on 
them. He introduced these faulty data by the 
handful into the contexture of Jewish history, and 
this is what deprives his book of nearly all historical 

Moses being a prophet, and the first and greatest 
of the prophets, had his place in these biographies, 
which were written especially with a view to edifi- 

* Tnke Isaiah, ch. xxxvi to xxxix. 


cation. In order to relate his life in accordance 
with the demands of the piety of the age, it was, of 
course, to the already consecrated Sacred History 
that the compiler went for his facts. I consider it 
as probable that there was a midrasch upon the life 
of Moses, in which nearly all the data of Sacred 
History were taken up, blunted and loaded with 
fabulous incidents after the captivity. The last of 
the compilers, carried away by the weakness which 
the compilers of legends have for pretending to be 
complete, even when their documents are mere 
reduplications of one another, gathered up all these 
narratives, and reintroduced them in their altered 
shape into Sacred History. He did not, after all, 
commit a critical offence much graver than that of 
the historian in our own day who completes the 
books of the Kings with those of the Chronicles, 
which are worked-up rearrangements of the former. 
Thus are to be explained the repetitions piled upon 
repetitions,* which make the life of Moses in the 
Hexateuch as it stands the most incoherent and 
badly ordered narrative it is possible to conceive.! 

* See above, p. 46 and following. 

j* Compare, for instance, Exodus, ch. xi. v. 1-3, to Exodus, ch. iii. 
v. 21-22; ch. xii. v. 35-36. Exodus, ch. xxxiii. and xxxiv., are 
full of repetitions and obscurities, which are not to be explained by 
the mere combination of the Iahveist and the Elohist. The small 
Thora (Exodus, ch. xxxiv. v. 10-28) is an abridged and modified 
repetition of the Book of the Alliance (the Iahveist version), and 
yet (v. 28) this summary is called the " Ten Commandments " 
(Elohist version). Exodus, ch. xxxiii. v. 1-6, is a second instance 
of the same kind. All that relates to the ohel moëd (Exodus, 


It is just the same as if any one were to embody 
in a book all the treatises in that volume, together 
with all the notes which were used in composing it. 
The narrative is constantly reverting to the same 
facts ; after the relatively authentic version comes 
the version at second hand, although the latter, far 
from adding to the first, merely serves to distort it. 
It is like Livy completed with elements from no 
matter what source, even with narratives derived 
from Livy himself which had undergone all sorts of 

In proportion as Israel inclined towards pietism 
the lyrical side of its genius gained more and more 
the ascendancy. Several psalms were doubtless 
composed about the time of Josiah and were the 
expression of that fervent piety of which Jeremiah 
was the inspirer. It is very difficult for us to 
distinguish them from the psalms of the anavirn, 
in the time of Hezekiah.* I should be much 
inclined to date back from this time the psalms 
which express the happiness of Jewish life when it 
is conscientiously practised. Well-defined moral 
ideas are the principal conditions of happiness, 
and the Thora provided this first base of a happy 
life, besides promising him who observed it that he 
should succeed in all things. To meditate it, to 
endeavour to practise it in all respects, was re- 

ch. xxxiii., v. 7-11) is distinct from the great invention (Exodus, 
ch. xxv. and following), which is posterior to the captivity, and yet 
neither the Iahveist or the Elohist were familiar with the ohel moiid. 

* See above, pp. 38 and following. • 


garded as the most supreme of joys. The Thora 
is in this sense the book which has made the 
greatest number of people happy.* 

This poesy, made up of gentle reproaches, these 
bitter complaints of the just always irritated by the 
prosperity of the wicked, and inclined to be angry 
with their God if He does not cause them to gain 
their suits, cannot but strike us as rather mono- 
tonous. The defect of the Psalms is that they 
express only too well one of the traits of the 
Jewish character, which is the tendency to com- 
plain, the everlasting lamentation, the appeal to 
the Eternal One against persecutions which are 
often imaginary. This defect dates more particu- 
larly from the times of Jeremiah and Josiah. 
Religious inspiration, still so lofty in this troubled 
age, easily becomes soured. The triumph of the 
lécim under Manasseh and Amon, their return to 
power under Jehoiakim, left a feeling of rancour 
in the consciences of the anavim which was never 
destined to be removed. The state of feeling was 
very analogous to that of the Catholic party in 
France after the failure of the attempt made on 
the 16th of May, 1877, by Marshal MacMahon and 
his advisers and after the ruin of the Union 
Générale. These self-made victims of a cause 
which had identified itself with that of God could 
do nothing but recriminate. 

It is thus that the literature of the time of Josiah 
* Psalm i. Compare verse iii, with Jeremiah, ch. xvii. v. 8. 


compared with that of Hezekiah's time gives evi- 
dence of marked inferiority. The decadence of the 
style is very pronounced. The Hebrew of Jere- 
miah and of Deuteronomy is flabby, prolix, and 
poor, and the plastic sentiment of the ancient 
writers is lost. The profane part of the literature, 
which was still in existence during the reign of 
Hezekiah, had completely disappeared by the time 
of Josiah. Israel will produce no more works such 
as the ancient Iasar, like Solomon's Song, the 
Proverbs, the poems of Agur and of Lemuel, the 
Strong Woman, and Job, the tone of which is so 
free. Every work now has a tendency serving to 
fortify the faith or the hopes of Israel. Israel is 
henceforward exclusively a religious people. In 
the time of Josiah, Greece had not yet developed 
a quarter of its genius, and yet even already its 
triumph is certain. Though only just learning to 
write, her incomparable Homeric ejpos is being re- 
cited ; her admirable lyric poetry is set to music and 
to the dance ; Thaïes of Miletus has been born, and 
clear-minded men are already endeavouring to for- 
mulate a naturalist theory of the universe, Solon's 
aim being to found the just city upon reason 

Israel will never found either a State or a philo- 
sophy, will never have an exclusive profane litera- 
ture, and yet its part is an immense one. Israel 
founded the protest of the poor, the demand for 
justice, equality, fraternity in the bosom, of the 


brotherhood — the Church, in a word, which is in 
its way a complete society, an organisation of 
justice and equality. Greece had prepared the 
enduring framework of civilization ; Israel will 
import an addition to it, an alteration of immense 
importance, care for the feeble, the unswerving 
demand for individual justice. Our Aryan civi- 
lizations, based upon the immortality of the soul 
and the sacrifice of the individual, are too cruel. 
Let us, at all events, acknowledge the right of the 
psalmist who protests and who weeps. Jeremiah 
is in a measure right. The remedies by which he 
hopes to correct the inevitable injustices of this 
world are chimerical; the society which he con- 
ceives would be still-born ; but he adds a factor 
which is essential to the work of humanity. He is 
of all those who preceded John the Baptist the 
man who contributed most to the foundation of 
Christianity ; he must be regarded, despite the 
interval of centuries which separated them, among 
the immediate precursors of Jesus. 

There was one point, moreover, in which the 
philosophical situation of these ancient Jews 
resembled our own. They set themselves to 
justify the temporal government of Iahveh with- 
out giving themselves the facilities which the 
hypothesis of life beyond the tomb offers in the 
way of compensation. "We, too, are obliged to 
explain life, to give it an aim and to render it 
endurable, without that great resource which so 


strongly helped the instructors of humanity in all 
ages. Strange to say, Judaism succeeded in obtain- 
ing prodigies of devotion without ever appealing 
to hopes the object of which was placed beyond 
this life. "We are obliged to do the same. We 
are obliged to give men a motive for living and 
for living properly, without alleging anything 
which they could regard as a lure or a deceptive 
promise. Jeremiah evaded this by persuading his 
contemporaries that the events of the world, from 
rain and drought down to the revolutions of 
empires, were arranged for rewards or as punish- 
ments for the children of Israel. This resource is 
also lacking for us in the present day ; but we have 
that of the psalmist, the secret tears, the out- 
pouring of the heart confessing its troubles. 
That is why the Psalms, when all the rest dis- 
appears, remain our book of prayer, our inward 
song, our eternal consolation. 

A birth of capital importance, as it may well be 
called, was that of piety, the piety which is in- 
dependent of all dogma, the consolation and force 
of life. An exquisite expression, " to seek God,"* 
summed up religion in all that was most intimate 
and true. To express the act of prayer there were 
words in ancient Hebrew of extremely delicate 
shades, f while later on the Christian translators 

n:n> t° speak in a whisper to oneself ; n^« See vol. ii. p 


introduced distinctions even finer. The Latin 
version of the Psalms, thanks to a series of 
delicious counter-meanings,* effaced what was in 
places rather dead in the original Hebrew. t It 
idealised the heaviest of the imageries, it rendered 
what was unintelligible touching, what was mono- 
tonous full of charm. The Church composed the 
breviary, the exquisite electuary of pious sleep. 
A St. Bernard derived the most ethereal mysticism 
of hymns from a limited horizon. From the 
graduated uses of mediiari in the Psalter came 
the orison, perhaps the most original creation of 
Christianity, the science of which it is the secret, 
the gift which belongs only to itself. 

* These counter-meanings came in a great measure from the 
altered condition in which the text has come to us. The collection 
of the Psalms having heen made very late, at an epoch when 
writing was very cursive and indistinct, no book of Hebraic litera- 
ture contains so many mistakes. 

I For instance, Psalm iv. v. 3, 9, etc. 




Such were the strange pursuits upon which, alone 
of all the world, the tiny kingdom of Judah was 
engaged. Thirty-eight years after the reform 
of Josiah, the Jewish nation disappears, just as 
thirty-seven years after Jesus all trace of the Jewish 
nationality vanishes. These milk fevers of Israel, 
symptomatic of the great travails of humanity, were 
so intense that each crisis ended in an apparent 
death, soon to be followed by unexpected re- 

The movement which agitated Israel was, in fact, 
destined to lead up to the religion of the human 
race ; a nationality could not emerge from it. Jeru- 
salem received from the prophets its distinctive 
stamp. It will become the holy city of all reli- 
gions ; it will never be a city of profane culture. 
Jeremiah set his seal upon it, and that darksome 
genius will reign there perpetually ; common 
sense will be excluded from its walls ; all kinds of 
fanaticism will give battle there, until it reaches the 


state in which we find it in the present day — a 
madman's cell, full of peril for the reason of those 
who dwell there, the magnetic pole of all the 
insanities, a champ clos in which the demented of 
the most diverse kinds meet to dispute and to die. 

The ideal which the prophets had before 
them was a peace amid which, all trace of a 
military aristocracy having disappeared, the only 
questions to be discussed and settled were those of 
social reform. But the general condition of the 
world lent itself less and less to these Utopian 
fancies. While the Thora was being founded at 
Jerusalem, under the double influence of Josiah and 
of Jeremiah, the gravest revolutions were occurring 
upon the Tigris and the Euphrates. Nineveh had 
retained its supremacy over the East during the 
reigns of Manasseh and of Amon. Assurbanipal 
succeeded Esherhaddon and represented in its 
plenitude the ideal of the King of Assyria, at once 
cruel and powerful. The Medes, although threaten- 
ing, were as yet but a black spot upon the horizon. 
Assyrian feudalism reached the vastest extension 
which any agglomeration of men under a central 
power had hitherto been able to attain. 

We have seen how, about 750, the prophet 
Nahum announced the downfall of Nineveh, with 
that hidden joy which fills the heart of a Jew 
when he foresees the ruin of his enemies. More- 
over, one is never mistaken when one predicts 

of human undertakings that they will perish. 

p 2 


Nafela nafela Babel is a prophecy always realised. 
The oracle of Nahum was verified at the end of five- 
and-twenty years. Asshur-edil-ilani, the successor 
of Asshurbanipal, was the last King of Nineveh. 
The Assyrian empire, already weakened by the 
Scythians, succumbed to the Medes about 625 b.c. 
The city never recovered, and the population either 
emigrated or moved to the opposite bank of the 
river. Nineveh fell in a day, and Mossul was built 
upon the other side, leaving untouched that vast 
field of ruins which had such prodigious surprises 
in store for modern science. 

The downfall of Nineveh did not involve the 
consequences for things in Syria which might have 
been anticipated.* Babylon henceforth concen- 
trated upon herself all the forces of action apper- 
taining to the ancient Asshur. The Medes did not 
exercise any appreciable influence on this side 
of the Euphrates, while the Scythians appear to 
have invaded the valleys of the Orontes and the 
Jordan. Babylon resumed the part which Nineveh 
had deprived it of for nearly a century and a half. 
As far back as the reign of Hezekiah, the viceroy 
of Babylon, Merodach Baladan, had made his 
appearance in the affairs of Palestine. After the 
disappearance of Nineveh, Nabopolassar, an As- 

* The downfall of Nineveh, although announced by Nahum, did 
not leave any trace in the Hebrew writings. Jeremiah does not 
allude to it, and there is nothing topical in Ezekiel, ch. xxxii. v« 


Syrian general, who had proclaimed himself King 
of Chaldea, was for fifteen years undisputed master 
of the East. His suzerainty was recognised by the 
kingdom of Judah, and Josiah evidently regarded 
himself as under a bond to him, for we shall see 
how he let himself be brought to ruin rather than 
desert him. The way in which Josiah acts as 
sovereign in the territory of the ancient kingdom of 
the North * goes to show, in fact, that the new 
Babylonian dynasty let the King of Jerusalem 
regard himself as sovereign of all the land of 

The inevitable complications which must occur 
in human affairs made it impossible for so small a 
people as this, surrounded by others of the same 
race who might have been its allies, but from whom 
religious hatred separated it by a deep division, to 
remain neutral. If the Mnevite or Chaldean empire 
had lasted as long as the empire of the Achemenide, it 
is probable that the small kingdom of Judah would 
have resigned itself to the payment of tribute and 
to a subordinate military position. But the masses 
which hurtled round about it were too vast to admit 
of its enjoying a life of repose. The geographical 
position of Palestine was ill suited to the pacific 
part after which its prophets aspired. A very 
ancient adage is that of Psalm lxviii.f 

* See above, p. 166. 

f See verse 31. ttfBJT nmp D'ty 111 


Egypt had, under the active impulse set 
Psammeticus L, made great progress, and his son, 
Nechoh II., opened up trade and navigation, and 
undertook great enterprises which might have 
been of immense service to civilization. The con- 
quest of Syria, which was always the temptation 
to the sovereigns of Egypt, supplanted, however, 
all his other ambitious aims. Nechoh had formed 
a very large navy, which opened up the coasts of 
Phoenicia for him, and he had in his pay numerous 
bands of Greek mercenaries, who conferred upon 
his Libyan and Ethiopian hordes a solidity which 
they had never previously possessed.* It appears 
that the plan was to attack Syria from its central 
part, and in the spring of 609 the bulk of the 
Egyptian army disembarked somewhere near the 
foot of Mount Carmel, and penetrated into the 
territory of the ancient kingdom of Israel without 
meeting with any resistance. 

Josiah regarded himself as the sovereign of these 
countries, t and it appears that Nechoh had, before 
entering upon the campaign, informed him that he 
was not the object of the attack and had asked 
him not to intervene. J But Josiah was true to his 
pledge, and being a vassal of Babylon he thought 

* For description of this army see Jeremiah, ch. xlvi. v. 7 and 

\ See above, pp. 166, 213. 

% 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 29 ; the addition of the Syriac appears 
to be original. Compare 2 Chronicles, ch. xxxv. v. 21. 


it his duty to oppose the passage of Nechoh. The 
plain of Megiddo was the key of Palestine, and it 
was there that all the battles which decided the 
fate of the country were fought. Josiah marched 
bravely thither, was defeated, and slain in the 
melee,* being only thirty-eight years old. His 
servants placed him on a chariot and brought him 
to Jerusalem, and buried him in the garden of Uzza, 
in the sepulchre of Manasseh and of Amon, his 

The extreme aridity of the historical information 
which we possess concerning this epoch makes it 
impossible to offer any conjectures as to the act 
which put an end to the life of Josiah. The 
character of this sovereign, who played so pro- 
minent a part in the history of his time, is quite 
unknown to us. In proportion as the physiognomy 
of David is so clear, and as we can realise the 
personality of Hezekiah, in the same proportion 
is it impossible to give any opinion as to what 
Josiah was like. Docile in religious matters as he 
was to the counsels of the prophets, it would be 
rash to assert that it was in obedience to their 
advice that he set out upon the fatal expedition 
which was to cost him his life. Jeremiah appears 
as a rule opposed to the Egyptian alliance ; f 

* 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 29 and following ; Herodotus, ii. 159. 
A very doubtful allusion in Zechariah, ch. xii. v. 11. 
I See above, p. 180. 


nevertheless, there is a passage in Deuteronomy 
very favourable to Egypt.* 

How comes it that the pietists, who had made 
such unscrupulous use of the authority of Josiah 
to secure the passing of their ideas of reform, had 
so little care for his memory, and how is it that the 
book of Jeremiah has preserved so few traces of 
him ? t Above all, it would be interesting to know 
how the pietists explained the premature and 
undeserved death of this prince after Iahveh's own 
heart. In the view of the thorough-paced Iahveist 
a misfortune always was caused by a man's 
own fault, but it would have been hard to contend 
that in Josiah's case it had been caused by 
his impiety. " Like unto him was there nothing 
before him, that turned to the Lord with all his 
heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, 
according to all the law of Moses ; nor after him 
arose there any like him." % The true culprit to 
whom the catastrophe ( of Megiddo was imput- 
able was Manasseh. " Notwithstanding, the Lord 
turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, 
wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, 
because of all the provocations that Manasseh had 
provoked him withal." § Thus, in contradiction of 

* Deuteronomy, ch. xxiii. v. 8-9. 

t The eulogy in Jeremiah, ch. xxii. v. 15-16, is indirect. The 
documents referred to in 2 Chronicles, xxxv. v. 25, were certainly 
composed after the event and falsely attributed to Jeremiah. 

J 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 25. 

§ 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 26. This is the best refutation of what 


the many promises of pardon made by Jeremiah, 
the crime of Manasseh was beyond expiation. All 
the systems which seek to justify the temporal 
government of Providence are driven to imagine 
the existence of an absurd, a ferocious, or a jealous 
God. Better, therefore, not attempt to justify Him 
at all. 

According to the narrative of Herodotus,* the 
immediate consequence of the victory of Megiddo 
was the capture of the important city of Cadytis. 
There is an enigma here which has never been 
properly solved, and the least improbable hypo- 
thesis is that this name applies to Jerusalem, f 
designated by the epithet already given to it by the 
pietists of Qedosa or Qedisê, " the Holy." $ After 
the battle of Megiddo, Jerusalem was quite open 
to Nechoh, and if he did not enter the city it was 
because he did not choose to do so. Matters in 
any event took a very tumultuous turn. At the news 
of the death of Josiah the people proclaimed one of 
his younger sons, aged twenty-three, the offspring of 

the book of Chronicles relates about Manasseh. What ! We are 
asked to believe that Manasseh was pardoned, while Josiah is 
punished in his stead. 

* Herodotus, ii. 159. 

•f The passage in Herodotus, iii. 5, seems to refer rather to Gaza, 
but Herodotus is often a little vague. Strabo also believes that the 
sea is visible from Jerusalem. 

J Jerusalem must have been called ppwip (Cadustiah). Com- 
pare Jeremiah, ch. xxv. v. 29 : n^JJ *DB> fcOpi 1BPN TX. Compare 
Isaiah, ch, xl. v. 14 ; Epistle of James, ch. ii. v. 7. 


Queen Hamutal, who appears to have been regarded 
as more patriotic than his elder brother Eliakim, who 
was twenty-five.* He called himself Shallum,t and 
took as his royal name that of Jehoahaz, " he 
whom the Lord hath chosen." We do not know 
for what reasons Jehoahaz was disliked by the 
anavim ; J but this antipathy had not time to 
develop itself. Events of the gravest importance 
were occurring in the east, and it seemed, as if the 
axis of the world was about to be changed, and as 
if Egypt was about to take over the sway which 
Assyria had held for a century and a half. 

Nechoh, after the battle of Megiddo, pursued his 
victorious march northward. He did not go beyond 
the Euphrates, and Karkemis was the furthest point 
reached by him in his expedition against Assyria. § 

* These figures are very doubtful. Josiah is supposed to be of 
this age in 634 or 632, when aged at the most thirteen or fifteen. 

"f Jeremiah, ch. xxii. v. 1]« 

J 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 31 and 'following. The passage of Jere- 
miah, ch. xxii. v. 10 and following, seems rather favourable to him 
than otherwise. Perhaps the author of the book of Kings has 
been rather too free with his ill-natured comments, after Josiah. 

§ The town of Karkemis, marking the usual point at which the 
Euphrates was crossed at the Assyrian epoch, was formerly identi- 
fied with Circesium, at the junction of the Euphrates and the 
Cobar. In our day, the savants guided by Assyriological and 
Egyptological researches make it much further north, at Mabourg, 
at Djerabis, or at Kalaat-Nedjm. Circesium, however, still has 
many partisans (see Journal des Savants, ^Nov. 1, 1873). It was 
not so difficult in ancient times as it is now to cross the desert by 
Palmyra. An army returning to Babylon from Hamath or Kiblah 


But in Syria the Egyptian rnle was much more 
solidly established than it had been for a long 
period. Upon his return JSTechoh halted at Riblah, 
in the land of Hamath, a central point at which 
all the invaders of Syria established their head- 
quarters.* There he received the homage of his 
vassals, Jehoahaz among them. Nechoh received 
him very unfavourably and deposed him,f putting 
in his stead his eldest brother, Bliakim, the son of 
Josiah and Zebudda, who took the name of Je- 
hoiakim, "him whom the Lord raised." Jehoiakim 
appears to have been unpopular, and he was 
regarded as so completely the creature of Nechoh 
that it was said he owed his royal name as well as 
his throne to the Egyptian conqueror. $ There are 
certain facts which go to show that Jerusalem 
underwent the indignity of an Egyptian occupa- 
tion^ A tribute of one hundred talents of silver 
and a talent of gold was imposed upon Judea. 
Jehoiakim obtained this money by taxing the rich 
in proportion to their possessions, and this was 
found to be a very heavy burden. Nechoh, loaded 
with the wealth of Syria, returned to Egypt, taking 

had no need to march up to Thafsaca, much less to the passes near 
Aleppo. The patriarchs going from Canaan to Padan-Aram are 
supposed to go straight across the desert. Genesis, ch. xxix. v. 1 ; 
xxxi. v. 23 ; xxxii. v. 11. 

* See below, pp. 284, 298. 

f And not " put him in bonds," which is an error of the copyist. 

I 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 34. 

§ Psalm lxxix. 


with Mm as captive the ill-fated Jehoahaz,* who 
died soon after in exile. 

The dominion of Nechoh over Syria lasted about 
three years, and Jehoiakim seems during the 
whole of this time to have been in complete 
subjection to him. A considerable proportion of 
opinion in Jerusalem seems to have been favourable 
to Egypt, which was the country where articles of 
luxury were chiefly manufactured, its carriages 
and carved furniture being especially prized. 
Jehoiakim and the nobility of Jerusalem thought 
above all of procuring for themselves these things, 
and such worldly tendencies of course enraged the 
austere school of the prophets, who made Egypt 
more and more the object of their hatred and their 

• An allusion in Ezekiel, ch. xix. v. 4. 




The sentiment which had led Josiah to show favour 
for the reforms preached by Jeremiah was so 
purely a personal feeling that three of his sons 
and one of his grandsons, who reigned after him, 
are marked with the same stigma as the worst of 
the kings. But we must not be led astray by 
these declamations, for extreme bigots are never 
content. "What may be done for them is only 
their due ; what is not done is a crime. It is 
evident that Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and 
Zedekiah were by no means princes after the 
anavim's heart. But to imagine that they put 
down the worship of Iahveh, of which Josiah had 
been the promoter, would be to form a very false 
conception, and that is the capital error of the 
books of Kings. It might be thought, in reading 
this very inferior work, that the kings of Judah 
succeeded one another like white and black, like 
the friends and the foes of Iahveism. If things 


had happened in as decisive a fashion as this, we 
should find a reflection of it in the book of 
Jeremiah. The tone of the book of Jeremiah is 
one of sustained anger, not an alternation of satis- 
faction and wrath. The truth is that the kings of 
Judah all admired Iahveh as the national god, their 
names alone sufficing to prove this. There were 
no impious sovereigns in those days. To deny 
the national god would have been to repudiate 
themselves; the only difference being that there 
were degrees in their zeal. In the eyes of some 
among them the worship of Iahveh was what that 
of Chemosh was for Mesa, what the worship of 
Salm was for Salmsezab. In the eyes of others, 
disciples of the prophets, the worship of Iahveh 
was big with social and political consequences ; it 
involved a morality, a reprobation of public usages, 
and a contempt for military preparation which no 
serious patriot could approve. 

The reaction which followed the death of Josiah 
was therefore very similar to that which followed 
the death of Hezekiah. The pietist sect, master 
of the king's conscience, had excited grave dis- 
content among the worldly people. The king had 
irritated his wives and sons by his bigotry, and 
people had got sick of official hypocrisy. The 
situation was very similar to what it was in 
France at the end of Charles the Tenth's reign, 
and the condition of the religious party, after the 
battle of Megiddo, was the same as that in which 


the clerical coterie found itself after 1830. Jehoi- 
akim, who appears to have been a liberal and a 
moderate prince, was regarded very much in the 
same light as Louis Philippe is in our day by the 
Catholic school ; he was set down as impious, though 
he had done no more than safeguard the most 
elementary rights of the Crown. 

What makes it clear that the anavite movement 
was not persecuted, but simply that it no longer 
enjoyed the favour of the Court, is that this move- 
ment was not to any appreciable extent interfered 
with by the ill-humour of the sons and grandsons 
of Josiah any more than the Catholic movement 
was arrested by the Revolution of 1830. The 
twenty years which elapsed between the death of 
Josiah and the fall of Jerusalem were as fruitful 
for the development of Judaism as the preceding 
years. Religious reform was so sure of triumph 
that the good or ill will of the rulers was of mere 
secondary importance. The code discovered or 
rather put together under Josiah, although not 
applied in civil life, continued to exercise in- 
fluence. Jeremiah's part becomes a more promi- 
nent one than ever, and around him is formed a 
group destined to carry with it into exile the 
anavite train of thought. Habakkuk, Uriah, and 
other prophets still keep the fire ablaze and feed 
the furnace. Hanan, son of Igdaliah, called " a 
man of God," * gathered around him numerous 
* Jeremiah, ch. xxxv. v. 4. 


sons in one of the lislca or chambers of the temple, 
in the first floor above that of Maaseiah, son of 
Shallum,* the keeper of the door (that is to say, 
near the entrance of the grand courtyard). The 
uncompromising declaration that Iahveh always 
gave his servants, and all the more so when they 
disregard all human precautions, what is called 
Mussulman fatalism, but what is in reality Jewish 
fatalism, became an absolute dogma, a thorough 

The dynasty, with the military and patriotic 
party, seemed like isolated fortresses in the midst 
of the nation, carried off in a contrary direction 
by a set of zealots. With its credit and forces 
exhausted by pietism, despised by the saintly, the 
Court had come to be no more than a mere aristo- 
cracy, with no hold upon what really appealed to 
the soul of the people. 

They were not, to all appearance, devoid of good 
qualities, these last princes of Judah, who cou- 
rageously struggled against national disorganisation. 
But it is dangerous for a nation to have a religion 
to incubate. Nebuchadnezzar and Titus were in 
reality the instruments, if not of God, at all events 
of a divine law. The nation which labours for 
humanity is always a victim to the universal work 
which it accomplishes. In any case the existence 
of a lay power at Jerusalem had become an impos- 
sibility. At the first glance we find, in the history 

# We may assume that he was born about 620 R.O. 


of the Jewish race two elements which present a 
strange contrast : upon the one hand brilliant 
heroes after the fashion of the old Arab horsemen, 
the Gideons, the Sauls and the Davids ; upon the 
other hand, the saints ; morose, sordid, and monkish 
in their aspect. One of these elements destroyed 
the other. The struggle which finally eliminated 
from Israel manly and warlike traditions took place 
after the death of Josiah during the years of crisis 
which I still have to describe. 

We have seen how Jehoahaz, during his very 
brief reign, excited the strong antipathies of those 
who had been his father's friends, while the hatred 
of Jeremiah and his adepts for Jehoiakim was still 
deeper. A religious party which has been in 
power and has fallen becomes furious with those 
who are reluctant to submit to its behests. Jehoia- 
kim was no doubt wrong in not assuming the out- 
ward air of hopeless sorrow which the circumstances 
rendered advisable, but there are cases in which it 
is courageous to react against the general despon- 
dency. Jehoiakim was accused of building palaces 
in the midst of all this public distress by means of 
forced labour. In the very beginning of his reign, 
a manifesto was issued by Jeremiah in which all 
the regrets for the past, all the rancour against the 
present, are expressed in tones of concentrated 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxii. v. 1 and following. The allusion in verse 
10 to " the dead " is to Josiah, and the allusion in the same verse 
" him that goeth away " is to Jehoahaz. 



If this speech was really made at the gate 
of Jehoiakim's palace, that king must be credited 
with the possession of at least one virtue, and 
that is patience. " Be just to the weak, and 
the dynasty will endure. If not, the city will be 
destroyed." This appears very moral, but poor 
Josiah had carried it out, and that did not prevent 
him from dying at eight-and-thirty. To argue, 
upon the morrow of Megiddo, that Josiah had 
been duly rewarded was to go rather too far in 
the way of paradox. It does not do, through excess 
of zeal for justice, to give to the world too defective 
reasons for doing what is right. The virulent 
hatred of luxury,* the insults levelled at Jerusalem 
because its houses are handsome, f the dogged deter- 
mination to prevent all profane development and 
more especially the formation of a wealthy military 
class, were much more deleterious than a few fine 
open windows and a suite of spacious apartments 
in a palace. Of course, if Jehoiakim did not pay 
his workmen, he was wrong; but since we have 
lived to see how fond democratic opinion is of 
denouncing as robbers those who find work for the 
people, we have become chary of believing such 

A still more violent scene occurred in the 
temple. $ Shortly after the delivery of this furious 

* Compare Jeremiah, ch. xxii. v. 13-14. 
f Jeremiah, ch. xxii. v. 23. 
J Jeremiah, ch. xxvi. 


invective Jeremiah, moved by the spirit, took up 
a position in the sacred courtyard to address the 
pilgrims of Judah who had come to worship there. 
His tones were haughty and threatening. If the 
people did not observe the law which Iahveh had 
given them, if they did not hearken to the prophets, 
the temple of Jerusalem will be as Shiloh, and the 
city will be destroyed. At these words, the priests, 
the prophets, and the people rose in anger and 
threatened to kill him. He owed his life to the 
princes and officers of the palace, who set a fine 
example upon that occasion, by protecting the 
lives of their adversaries. They recalled how, in 
the time of Hezekiah, Micah had spoken as strongly, 
but had not on that account been put to death. 
Upon the contrary, his words were taken to heart ; 
God was appeased, and God " repented Him of the 
evil." Jeremiah's strongest protector was Ahikam, 
the son of Shaphan, the same who, as seen above, 
was concerned in the episode of the discovery 
of the Thora.f This universally respected man 
threw his protection over the daring agitator, and 
prevented him being handed over to the people 
to be put to death. As a general rule, the Govern- 
ment displayed extreme patience towards Jeremiah, 
doubtless out of recollection of his connection with 
Josiah and of the attention which had been showered 
upon him. 

* See above, pp. 171, 173, 192. He was the father of Godolias, 
see below, p. 301. 

Q 2 


The furious utterances of Jeremiah, were of 
almost daily occurrence. A drought, a year less 
favourable than the preceding one, became argu- 
ments in his hands.* The sins of the people were 
the cause of this, and arguments such as would 
be used by a man profoundly ignorant and ob- 
stinate were put in the mouth of Iahveh. He 
would have done with His people, and would have 
no more vows or burnt offerings. t 

This system of terrorising, organised by an in- 
dividual outside of the State, was subversive of 
all public order, and when Jeremiah tells us that 
the false prophets were hostile to the alarmists, % 
we are inclined to think that the rôles were re- 
versed. From the earliest years of Jehoiakim 
Jeremiah announced the fal] of Jerusalem. § Doubt- 
less, in his eyes, the instrument of divine punish- 
ment was not to be Egypt. The standard of 
Chaldsean power had not yet been raised, but 
Jeremiah had the conviction that the devastating 
force would come, as it had so often done before, 
from the east and from the north. The imagery 
derived from the battle of Megiddo abounds in his 
mind. || He declared that the future would see 
still worse things, and he was right ; but how sad 

* Jeremiah, ch. xiv. and beginning of ch. xv. 

•f Jeremiah, ch. xv. v. 1-4. 

\ Jeremiah, ch. xiv. v. 13 and following. 

§ Jeremiah, ch. xiv. 

|| Jeremiah, ch. xv. y. 4-9. 


it is to be right in opposition to the illusions of 
one's country ! 

Jeremiah had imitators, who, not being protected 
by the same respect and the same recollections, 
found that the authorities were much more severe, 
or, it may rather be said, not so lenient for their 
extravagant language. Jerusalem had a handful 
of these " tonguesters," who can only be compared 
to the radical journalists of our own day, and who 
rendered all government impossible. One, Urijah, 
the son of Shemaiah of Kirgath-jearim,* poured 
forth the most awful threats against the city and 
against the land. Such determined discouraging 
of the nation at so critical a moment was more 
than the king, his captains, his princes, and the 
whole of the military and patriotic party could 
bear. It is always painful for a soldier to hear it 
declared that his efforts are unavailing. The soldier 
stands in need of being encouraged, and the man 
who says to him, even with the best of reasons, 
" Tou are sure of defeat," is certain to exasperate 
him. The officers and princes resolved to kill Urijah, 
who fled into Egypt. Jehoiakim sent Elnathan, 
the son of Achbor, and several others after him, 
and when they had brought him back Jehoiakim 
" slew him with the sword, and cast his body into 
the graves of the common people." 

An understanding, it will be seen, was impossible 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxvi. v. 20, and following. 


between the fanatics, who preferred seeing their 
country annihilated to its being less saintly than they 
would have it, and between soldiers, who were in no 
wise impious, but who were incapable of conceiving 
the higher phases of religion. The patriarchal sim- 
plicity which was at the bottom of the prophetic 
spirit did not permit of the formation of a real 
army. The patriarchal spirit presupposes that the 
tribe will not be in contact with any powerful 
State. The prophets were bent upon maintaining 
these puerile ideas at a time when a State much 
better organised than that was an urgent necessity. 
The anger therefore which they excited among 
sensible laymen is easy to be understood. A cer- 
tain air of external swagger is the more or less 
necessary accompaniment of a soldier, while the 
royalty, upon the other hand, presupposes a palace 
decorated with some little style, a certain amount 
of pomp and show. The prophet, regarding all 
that as so many crimes against Iahveh, was in 
reality the destroyer of the State, the enemy of 
his country, just like the extreme democrat of 
our day, who will not hear of the derogations from 
the principle of equality which are necessary in 
order to have an army. A society which is too 
kindly in disposition is weak; the world is not 
made up of perfect people ; there are certain 
abuses which are necessary and inevitable. Bud- 
dhism, which at a later date realised the moral 
programme of the prophets, has rendered aH 


the populations which have given themselves up 
to it incapable of all political and national 

Amid so many contradictions, leaving only the 
choice between errors, who can pretend to be with- 
out offence ? He who is afraid of being mistaken 
and does not denounce any one as blind ; he who 
does not quite know what may be the goal of 
humanity, but who loves it all the same, it and its 
work; he who seeks after the truth with hesitation, 
and who says to his adversary, " Perhaps you see 
better than I do ; " he, in short, who leaves others 
in possession of the full liberty which he assumes 
for himself — that man may sleep in peace, and 
await with assurance the judgment of the world, 
whatever it may be» 



An important event took place in the fourth year 
of Jehoiakim's reign (605), which produced a per- 
manent change in the political state of the East. 
A warrior, who seems to have been of the first 
order, appeared upon the world's arena, in the per- 
son of Nabokodrassar, or, according to the usual 
form, Nebuchadnezzar,* son of Nabopolassar, who, 
for nearly half a century, reproduced at Babylon 
the wonderful success in war which the Shaima- 
nesers and Assurbanipals had attained in Nineveh. 
The scourge of God was 'ready. lahveh loves war; 
the days of battle are his festivals. Has not the 
God of Israel always some dispute to settle with 
the nations ? 

Nabopolassar, hampered by the great struggles 
that he maintained in order to found his em- 
pire, had been forced to endure the supremacy 
of Necho at Carchemish. In 606, the youthful 

* The Hebrew texts contain sometimes Nbukdnasr or Nbukdrasr, 
through a phonetic not graphic variation. The second form is the 

best. / 


.Nebuchadnezzar attacked the Egyptian army and 
completely defeated it. This time, as usual, the 
fate of Syria hung upon a single battle !* The re- 
treat of the remnant of the Egyptian army towards 
the south was a prolonged rout.f 

The tidings of the battle of Carchemish produced 
a great impression at Jerusalem. The Iaheveists, as 
a rule, were more favourably disposed towards 
Assyria than towards Egypt. Jeremiah was beside 
himself. He followed the usual custom of the 
prophets in being always on the watch for news, 
and now composed a sir upon this subject, in imi- 
tation of the ancients, J in which he seems to follow 
the course of the battle. The events taking 
place by the Euphrates, the multitude of the 
fallen appear to him a great sacrifice § in honour of 
lahveh, Lord of Hosts. A few days later Jeremiah 
composed a new piece, that he might have the 
pleasure of announcing to Egypt the impending 
visit of the conqueror. || His mockery is atrocious. 
Egypt is a fair heifer; a gadfly from the north 
will come to madden her. Her mercenaries are 
there, in the lower lands of the Nile, like fattened 
oxen. Woe to them ! 

From this time the gloomy giant of Jerusalem 
has found his man. In his eyes, Nebuchadnezzar is 
a servant of God,^[ a minister of God, executing 

* 2 Kings, ch. xxiv. v. 7. t «Jeremiah, ch. xlvi. 

J Jeremiah, ch. xlvi. v. 1-12. § l"D1. 

I Ch xlvi. v. 13 and following. 

% Jeremiah, ch. xxv. v. 9; ch. xxvii. v. 6 ; ch. xliii. v. 11, 


his decrees. He always alludes to him with a 
kind of religious awe. The theory of the scourges 
of God, so dear to the fathers of the Church, now 
commences. God strikes the nations with terrible 
instruments, which he destroys after he has used 
them. He punishes through men whom he after- 
wards punishes in their turn. This philosophy of 
history, which became the tenet of Bossuet and of 
modern Catholicism, is due to Jeremiah. In the 
surates of Jeremiah, previous to the ruin of Jeru- 
salem, the reverse action of the scourge, broken in 
its turn,* is not clearly expressed, but after the 
captivity his disciples completed the theory by 
slight interpolations. f 

According to the vision of the furious zealot the 
earth becomes a field of carnage. Corpses cover 
the land like a dunghill. This time Iahveh triumphs 
in the wickedness of men ! % This delicious vista 
entrances the sinister visionary. " Terror on every 
side" § is his watchword. All the enemies of Iahveh 

* The idea of the punishment of the scourge is clearly found in 
Habbakuk. See below, p. 242. 

\ Chapter xxv. of Jeremiah has unquestionably received some 
interpolations after the captivity. This is proved by comparing 
the Hebrew with the Greek text. Notice v. 18 particularly. 
Verses 11-14 and the four last words of v. 26 are written by a 
disciple of Jeremiah, but they are quite in the spirit of the master. 
It is possible that the whole chapter may be from the disciple, who 
added ch. 1., li. Verse 7 of ch. xxvii. also appears to be an inter- 
polation ; it is missing from the Greek. 

\ Jeremiah, ch. xxv. v. 32 and following. 

§ Jeremiah, ch. xlix. v. 29 : n^DD 1UD- 


will be exterminated. We have explained elsewhere* 
that the worshipper of Iahveh is always in some 
degree the worshipper of force. At this time the 
god of Jeremiah was really the sword of Nebuchad- 
nezzar, which he looked upon as the sword of 
Iahveh. f He apostrophises it as though he dis- 
posed of it. 

This cruel survey, this geography of massacre 
and hatred, called Onera $ in the Middle Ages, 
which so strongly affected the Joachimite imagi- 
nation in the thirteenth century, § resembles the 
howling of a wild beast at the smell of blood. 
Philistines, || Tyrians, Sidonians, Cyprians, Egyp- 
tians, Medes, Blamites, Moabites,^" Ammonites,** 
Bdomites,tt Hamath, Arpad, Damascus, {} are all 
doomed to destruction. The Kedarites and other 
Arab tribes can only hide themselves in holes, 
Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had decreed 
their ruin.§§ 

* Vol. ii. p. 394, 395 and following. 

t Oh. xlvii. v. 6-7 : nirp Din» mucro Domini. 

J Ch. xlvi., xlvii., xlviii., xlix. Compare the enumeration, 
ch. xxv. v. 18 and following. 

§ See Nouvelles études aVhist. relig., p. 237. 

I Ch. xlvi. The title placed at the head of this chapter by the 
scholiasts is erroneous; it is not found in the manuscript used by 
the Alexandrine translators. 

% Ch. xlviii., partly taken from Jonah the son of Amittai, 
already copied by Isaiah (ch. xv., xvi.), and partly from the 
canticle upon the taking of Heshbon (Numbers, ch. xxi.). 

** Ch. xlix. v. 1-6. ft Ch - *!". v - 7-22. 

H Ch. xlix. v. 23-27. §§ Ch. xlix. v. 28- 3. 


The terrible joy displayed by the Jewish prophet 
at the extermination which is to befall these peace- 
ful tribes, quietly living upon the fruits of their 
labour,* is something horrible, and the sympathy 
expressed by the man of god for the Tamerlane 
who is to destroy them is even more so. The 
devastating Iahveh, to whom Attila is a perfect 
servant, represents Jeremiah's ideal. The spectacle 
of this destruction enchants him; he applauds it 
and delights in it. The frightful descriptions which 
fill the Onera are perhaps the chapters in which 
Jeremiah has shown the most talent. He revels in 
them like a mist of blood. The idea that force 
represents the will of Iahveh, the dreadful expres- 
sion of "god of armies," t the idea that the supreme 
justice is executed through battles, scenes from 
which God is far absent, all this is truly the noc- 
turnal side of Jeremiah. He approves of Nebu- 
chadnezzar because Nebuchadnezzar crushes all civil 
and industrial civilisations, which his patriarchal 
instinct leads him to detest. To him destruction 
represents strength, and therefore it must be a 
proof of Iahveh's approbation. At a later period 
Christian teaching abused these ideas in a deplor- 

* Compare Judges, ch. xviii. v. 7. 

■j" We allude to the idea only; for the expression of Sahaoth 
retains, in Jeremiah and the most modern Hehrew writers, 
the same meaning that it had with the most ancient prophets. 
The translation Kvpios twv bvpàfieiop comes from the Alexandrine 
translators, who, themselves, in many cases put 2a/3oo>0 or 
irapro^pârwp. The Oriental translations have never admitted the 
sense of armies. ' 


able manner. The hideous laudations of successful 
massacre which have so often sullied Catholic docu- 
ments are derived from the book of Jeremiah, one 
of the most dangerous portions of the biblical 
canon. No, the mucro Domini is not in any man's 
hands, nor does it work for any one. Attila is not 
the minister of God in any sense. He personates 
evil, the negative of GTocl. 

From Carchemis, Nebuchadnezzar advanced to- 
wards Egypt by the traditional route through Cœle- 
Syria, adopted by the Assyrian expeditions. He 
marched slowly, subduing the populations as he 
passed through them.* Jeremiah's enthusiasm for 
the invader redoubled as he drew nearer to Judea. 
He probably believed that Nebuchadnezzar would 
depose Jehoiakim, and that the crisis would lead to 
the massacre of those who had compromised them- 
selves in the Egyptian occupation. As the latter 
were also his personal opponents, he hoped in this 
way to witness the end of the enemies of Iahveh. 

* A curious monument of the passage of Nebuchadnezzar 
existed at Wadi Brissa, near Riblah, at the foot of Djebel-Akkar; 
but unfortunately it was nearly destroyed a few years ago. See 
Pognon, les Inscr. babyl. du Wadi Brissa (Paris, 1887). The 
inscription of Wadi Brissa, like all the inscriptions of Nabuchad- 
nezzar, related chiefly to the buildings he had made at Babylon 
and at Borsippa ; however this one appears to have been more 
topical (See Pognon, p. 21-22). Another inscription of Nabu- 
chadnezzar is to be seen at the mouth of the Dog River, near 
Bey rout. Sayce, in the Proceedings of the Soc. of Bibl. Arch., 
November, 1881 , pp. 9 and following ; Schrader, p. 364. This stele 
is nearly illegible. 


In his exaggerated language, Jeremiah seems unable 
to weigh his words. He acted like a French jour- 
nalist who, in 1870, might, in all good faith, have 
called the Prussians the ministers of God, have 
applauded the defeats caused by our errors, and 
have predicted worse disasters in the future if thn 
people did not reform. The ferocious joy which 
the prophet affected was only counterfeit, a figure 
of rhetoric. But what a defiance to public opinion 
such an attitude became at that time ! Jeremiah 
appears to have chosen the most critical moment in 
Jehoiakim's reign to carry out one of his boldest 
projects, for impressing the people and imposing his 
ideas of reform upon the obdurate. 

As yet, Jeremiah had not written his prophe- 
cies,* but he now thought that, united in one 
volume and adapted to the terrors of the Chal- 
dean invasion, the predictions relating to Judah 
added to those referring to the other nations, 
would produce a great effect. t He therefore 
took a roll and dictated all his former prophe- 
cies to one of his disciples, Baruch, son of Neriah, 
brother to Seraiah,^ an important personage at 
the court. Soon afterwards a great assemblage 
of people from all the country took place at Jeru- 
salem to celebrate a fast (December, 605). The 
courts of the temple were crowded, and Jeremiah 

* Vol. ii. pp. 355 and following, 
f Jeremiah, ch. xxxvi. 
J Jeremiah, li. 59. 


announced his intention of going there, but at the 
last moment he feigned that something prevented 
him from carrying out this arrangement, and sent 
Baruch instead, commanding him to read the volume 
which had been dictated to him aloud to the people. 
The courts of the temple were surrounded by liskoth 
or cellœ which, lighted by the doors only, resembled 
the qobbê of the Mahomedan mosques, so that 
any one, standing on the threshold, could address 
all present. Baruch chose the cella of Gemariah, 
the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court 
at the entry of the new gate of the temple, and 
installed himself there. An immense effect was 
produced by the contents of the volume, and Micaiah, 
the son of Gemariah, seeing the people's emotion, 
at once went down to the scribes' chamber in the 
royal palace. 

All the ministers, Elishama the sofer, Delaiah 
the son of Shemaiah, Elnathan the son of Achbor, 
Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the 
son of Hananiah happened at the moment to be 
assembled there. Micaiah related to them the 
substance of Baruch' s communication to the people, 
and they sent a messenger to the temple to fetch 
the imprudent reader, in order that he might 
re-read the manuscript before them. The terrible 
words raised great alarm in all present, for, though 
the harshness of Jeremiah's denunciations was well 
known, this collection of his gloomy predictions 
produced an impression which made them seem 


quite new. It was said that the splenetic prophet 
had purposely condensed in these pages all the evil 
which Iahveh designed to bring upon his people. 
The ministers questioned Baruch upon the manner 
in which the roll had been dictated, and advised him 
and Jeremiah to conceal themselves immediately. 
They then went to the king, told him what had 
occurred, and, at his command, showed him the 
book which had caused so much excitement. 

A council was held in the king's chamber in the 
winter palace. A lighted brazier stood in front 
of the king's seat, because of the severity of the 
season; and the ministers all stood beside him. 
Scarcely three or four chapters had been read when 
the kind's anger broke forth. The words contained 
in the volume, " The king of Babylon will destroy 
the land, and will exterminate both man and beast," 
shocked him, not unreasonably. He took the roll 
in one hand, the scribe's penknife in the other, and 
commenced cutting the manuscript into pieces, 
throwing them into the fire until the roll was all 

The princes standing round did not share the 
king's assurance. Some of them hearing these 
atrocious threats, wished to rend their clothes, as 
Josiah had done under similar circumstances. El- 
nathan, Delaiah 3 and Gemariah implored the 
king not to burn the roll which contained the 
words of Iahveh, but Jehoiakim was inflexible. 
He would not leave one fragment of the roll 


unburnt, and ordered Jerahmeel, the qualified hen 
ham melehy Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah 
the son of Abdeel, to arrest Jeremiah and Baruch. 

According to the words of the enthusiastic 
Jeremaist, who has transmitted this record to us, 
" Iahveh hid them." The royal precautions were 
useless. Jeremiah once more dictated to Baruch 
the words which Jehoiakim believed effectually 
suppressed, adding to them new and more terrible 
threats. The heavenly voice again repeated that 
Jehoiakim should have no successor, that his body 
should be cast outside the city, exposed to the heat 
and cold, that Jerusalem and Judah should be 
totally destroyed. Nothing could soften the furious 
prophet. Less implacable than his master, Baruch 
found it hard to write down such terrible words 
against his native land.* The dreadful predictions 
which he copied into the roll troubled his mind, and 
he complained bitterly to Iahveh of the uncon- 
genial task which he had imposed upon him. 
Iahveh deigned to speak to him, to revive his 
courage, but his words appear to us more forcible 
than consoling. In a catastrophe which will over- 
whelm the whole human race it is scarcely worth 
while asking to be excepted. Baruch's life shall 
be safe wherever he may be, let him be content with 
that assurance. 

The apparition of this great military power which 
appeared to be the grinding stone of Iahveh, ex- 

* Jeremiah, ch. xlv. 



cited the popular imagination to the highest degree» 
About the same time, the inspired Habakkuk * 
issued amongst the pietists some prophecies strongly 
resembling those of Jeremiah, yet superior, through 
the literary talent displayed in them. 

Habakkuk, less unjust than Jeremiah, expresses 
pity for the victims and anger against the invaders. t 
God will punish them in their turn, for, after 
all, they are more guilty than those whom they 

We are not accustomed to such protestations 
against triumphant violence from Jeremiah. Ha- 
bakkuk further consoles us by assuring us that the 
fortresses built with the sweat of the nations will 
not stand. 

Habakkuk was a patriot, Jeremiah a fanatic. 
But historical fame is reserved for the man who 
exaggerated. The sensible writer is almost for- 
gotten ; but the furious declaimer, who never 
sacrificed one grain of personal enmity to the good 
of his country, has become one of the corner stones 
in the religious edifice of humanity. 

* Hab. ch. i. v. 5 and following. See above, p. 143. 
\ Hab. ch. ii. 



Jeremiah's antipatriotic hopes were disappointed. 
Nebuchadnezzar went to Jerusalem, but lie com- 
mitted no hostile action there, and Jehoiakim re- 
tained his throne upon the condition of recognising 
the sovereignty of Babylon.* No doubt, Jehoahaz, 
who had encouraged the Assyrian alliance and 
had fallen victim to it, was dead in Egypt or he 
would probably have been recalled. It appears, 
however, that Nebuchadnezzar never crossed the 
frontier of Egypt. t He retraced his steps and 
hastened back to Babylon ; it is believed that 
tidings of the death of his father, Nabopolassar, 
hastened his return. { 

By this death Nebuchadnezzar officially received 
the title of King of Babylon (604), § which had been 
erroneously given to him in Syria for some years ; || 

* 2 Kings, ch. xxiv. v. 1. 
| Maspero, pp. 540-541. 
J Berose, in Jos., Ant., X. xi. 1. 
§ Jeremiah, ch. xxv. v. 1. 

| Jeremiah, ch. xlvi. v. 2, 26, and ch. xxxvi. v. 29. 

r 2 


his f atlier had reigned twenty years ; and he occupied 
the throne of Babylon for forty-three years. 

This state of peace in subjection lasted three or 
four years in Judea. During this time the pro- 
phetic agitation redoubled. The king and the 
party of the anaviw, were always on bad terms.* 
The latter continued to assert that all military 
preparations were an insult to Grod, that fasting 
was better, and that the prayers of holy men were 
the best weapons of war. This pious enthusiasm 
increased in proportion to the diminution of the 
material forces of the land. What circumstances 
induced Jehoiakim to abandon his policy of resig- 
nation and madly rebel against Babylon (601) ? 
We have only suppositions upon this point. The 
origin of this error, which led to such terrible con- 
séquences, seems to have laid in the hostile rela- 
tions of the kingdom of Judah with the Arameans 
of Damascus, the Ammonites, and Moabites. One 
of the bad sides of the character of Israel is seen 
in the fact that, as a rule, the nation was unpopular 
with its neighbours, and usually lived on bad terms 
with them. In Deuteronomy this ill-feeling to- 
wards the Ammonites and Moabites is given as a 
precept. t During the last years of Jehoiakim the 
kingdom of Judah was continually invaded by 
bands of Arameans, Ammonites, and Moabites, 
who, no doubt, acted under orders from Nebuchad- 

* 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 37. 

-\ Deuteronomy, ch. xxiii. v. 4 and following. 


nezzar; and, in fact, companies of Chaldeans were 
found amongst the invaders.* 

These frightful ravages have left their traces in 
the writings of Jeremiah, t The land of Iahveh is 
devastated by all the beasts of creation. Brigands 
devour it. The labourer sows but does not reap. 
The sword of Iahveh is drawn. Israel is punished 
by its unbelieving neighbours, who have taught it 
to swear by Baal. But if, later on, the latter wish 
to adopt the laws of Israel and to swear by Iahveh, 
he will receive them. They shall be incorporated 
with the Israelitish nation. Otherwise they shall 
be exterminated. The disturbed state of Syria 
raised the most singular hopes in vivid imagina- 
tions, side by side with the most gloomy prospects. 

Jehoiakim appears to have coped bravely with this 
desperate situation, which probably lasted two or 
three years. Behind the brigandage of the nomads 
loomed the Chaldean power with its train of 
horrors. Egypt was reduced to impotence. Since 
the battle of Carchemish it had never recrossed the 
torrent of el- Arisen ; { yet it considerably forced 
the policy of Jerusalem. It would certainly have 
been wiser to submit to the will of Iahveh, mani- 
fested to Jeremiah by the sword of Nebuchadnezzar. 
We know too little about the political history of 
this period to be able to form a single conjecture 

* 2 Kings, ch. xxiv. v. 2. 

f Jeremiah, ch. xii. v. 7-17. 

\ 2 Kings, ch. xxiv. v. 7. Compare Jeremiah, ch. xxii. v. 20. 


upon what the unfortunate princes, upon whom the 
sad fate of governing a dying nation devolved, 
might or might not have done. We do not even 
know how Jehoiakim ended his life. But it 
appears most pro' Me that he died at Jerusa^m, 
and was buried with Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah 
in the cave of the garden of Uzza.* But, just then, 
the political horizon was extremely gloomy ; the 
great Assyrian expedition destined to crush the 
rebellion of Jehoiakim was probably already ad- 
vancing. It may be, even, that Jehoiakim was 
killed in some fight on the outposts. Jeremiah t 
had prophesied during the king's life that his body 
should not be buried, but cast forth beyond the 
gates of the city. But Jeremiah had also said that 
he should have no successor, and this prediction 
was certainly not fulfilled. J 

Jehoiakim was only thirty-six when he died 
(598). His son Jeconiah or Coniah, aged eighteen, 
was then proclaimed king. At this epoch it was 
customary for the monarch to change his name 
upon ascending the throne, and Coniah therefore 

* 2 Kings, ch. xxiv. v. 6; the Greek text of 2 Chronicles, 
ch. xxxvi. v. 8 (cf. Thenius, p. 446). The received version of the 
Chronicles was written with the object of vindicating Jeremiah. 

f Jeremiah, ch. xxii. v. 19; ch. xxxvi. v. 30. See above, 
p. 143. 

\ Jeremiah himself recognised that Jeconiah really occupied the 
throne of David, ch. xiii. v. 13. The editor of Jeremiah, after the 
captivity, evidently paid little attention to some of the unfulfilled 



called himself Jehoiachin,* which lias the same 
meaning. His mother was Nehusta, the daughter 
of Elnathan of Jerusalem, probably the same person 
as Elnathan, son of Achbor, whom we have more 
than once seen fulfilling the duties of the king's 
minister f in his struggle against the prophets. 

Nehusta occupied the position of Sultane Validé J 
with the powers of Kegent.§ Like her father El- 
nathan she believed in the necessitv of restraining 
the intemperate language of the prophets. The 
young king soon possessed a large harem, || and 
Jeremiah pursued the unfortunate young prince 
and his mother with the same hatred that he had 
displayed towards Jehoiakim. 

But events were hastening forward. If the 
Chaldean army had not reached the borders of 
Judea when Jehoiakim died, it appeared there a 
few days after his death. First came Nebuchad- 
nezzar's generals with bands of Chaldeans and 
Arameans.^f They commenced by seizing the cities 
in the south of Judah, which offered the least re- 
sistance.** As the cities were taken, the trans - 

* Jeremiah always calls him Jeconiah. The prophet had the 
habit of using the original name. For instance,, ne calls Jehoahaz 
by his first name Shallum. 

f Jeremiah, ch. xxvi. v. 22 ; ch. xxxv 1 v. 12, 25. 

J nTDJn. Jeremiah, ch. xiii. v. 18. 

§ Jeremiah, ch. xiii. v. 18. 

I 2 Kings, ch. xxiv. v. 15. 

^[ Jeremiah, ch. xxxv. v. 11. 

** Jeremiah, ch. xiii. v. 19, and the incident of the Rechabites 
(Kenites), who sought refuge in Jerusalem. 


portation of the people was carried out upon a 
large scale. Jerusalem was crowded with fugi- 
tives. One would have thought that the approach 
of so great a danger would have caused all party 
hatred to disappear. But it had no effect. Two 
manifestoes from Jeremiah appeared at the very- 
moment that the sies;e was about to commence. 
They are two diatribes against Jehoiachin and his 
mother. The prophet was furious because they did 
not ask for counsel from Iahveh, that is, from him- 
self. Israel had been spoilt by strangers. It was 
a marred garment, because it had been plunged in 
strange waters. Iahveh would therefore show no 
mercy. " Humble yourselves, sit ye down low," he 
cries to the young king and to the queen-mother, 
" Jerusalem shall endure the greatest insults. Iah- 
veh himself shall discover her skirts before her 
face, and her shame shall appear." Her prostitu- 
tion has been seen even upon the hills in the field.* 
Chapters xxii. and xxiii. of Jeremiahf are still 
more personal against Jehoiachin and his mother 
Nehusta. Jerusalem the faithless spouse has fled 
to the mountains. Her lovers (the heathen allies 
upon whom she depended in her struggle against 
Babylon $) are in captivity. During that time she 
dwelt in cedar. § 

* Jeremiah, ch. xiii. 

f Jeremiah, ch. xxii. v. 20 and following, unto v. 8 of ch. xxiii. 
\ 2 Kings, ch. xxiv. v. 7. 

§ Allusion to Jehoiachin's palaces. Jeremiah, ch. xxii. v. 7 and 


Thus the house of David is repudiated. The 
faithful people shall have no more kings. It is no 
longer question of a kingdom, but of gathering 
together the scattered Israelites, of making a fold 
where holy men could multiply and become a new 
stem. A mysterious scion of the house of David 
(in a symbolical sense) would preside over this new 
state of Israel, and would be the centre of the 
perfect world of the future. This theocratic king 
is described by Jeremiah from the model of Josiah. 
He is less a king than a shepherd ; the people 
whom he governs is no longer a nation, but a flock. 
We see that Christianity is only the realisation of 
these dreams. Jeremiah is the most radical de- 
stroyer that any royal house ever found opposed to 
it ; he is also one of the most powerful creators in 
the religious world. Let us forget the odious side 
of such a position. The interests of the political 
and spiritual cities are always conflicting. Glory 
to those prophets of Israel who with great ability 
commenced a struggle which has filled the cen- 
turies, and is not yet ended. But we must pity 
Israel, who in this terrible conflict has lost its 
terrestrial existence, its native land ! 

The storm drew nearer each day. Those who 
were rich enough to make the journey took refuge in 
Egypt.* Fugitives from the open country crowded 
into Jerusalem. The lishoih of the temple were 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxiv. v. 8. 


filled with people. Amongst these refugees was one 
interesting group, the Rechabites.* These ascetics 
were of Kenite origin, bound by a kind of vow to 
the ancient patriarchal life, which displayed some 
analogy to the schools of the prophets, and they 
received many marks of esteem from the pietists. 
Their family, however, was quite distinct from the 
Beni-Israel,t and it is doubtful whether they ac- 
cepted the Thora and the revelations which the 
prophets endeavoured to impose upon Judah. 
Their admission into Jerusalem was therefore pre- 
ceded by some hesitation. Jeremiah decided the 
question ; he insisted that the Eechabites should 
be fully received into the Church of Israel. They 
were lodged in the liska of the temple conceded to 
the school of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, who led 
a similar life. This apartment was near to the liska 
of the sarim, above that of Maaseiah, the son of 
Shallum, the keeper of the door. The chief of the 
Rechabites, Jaazaniah, the son of Jeremiah, the son 
of Habazziniah, impressed every one by his devout 
life. Jeremiah made it the subject of an exhorta- 
tion to the Jews to be as faithful as these Kenites 
to the covenant made by their fathers. 

The preparations for besieging Jerusalem were 
commenced before the arrival of Nebuchadnezzar. 
All the machinery for conducting a siege revealed 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxxv. 

•f The names of Jonadab, Jaazaniah, Jeremiah, and even Haba7>- 
ziniah are Tahveist. 


to us by the Assyrian bas-reliefs was brought 
against the city. All the members of the religious 
party were inside the town, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, 
Hanan son of Igdaliah, the Rechabites, and Eze- 
kiel, no doubt expecting one of those miraculous 
interventions which were reported in the time of 
Hezekiah. Habakkuk, to encourage his fellow- 
citizens during the siege, composed a psalm* in 
imitation of the ancient canticles, opening as they 
didt by a brilliant picture of the theophany of 
Sinai. No doubt the image of the impending appa- 
rition of Iahveh for his great day was prefigured in 
this theophany. Iahveh, still a god of thunder, 
will come from the south to the assistance of his 
anointed, { that is, of his chosen people, whose 
distress has now reached a climax. 

The young king and his sarim bravely defended 
themselves until the approach of Nebuchadnezzar 
in person was announced. At that epoch a siege 
lasted a long time. The Jews may have hoped 
that within a certain time Nebuchadnezzar might 
die, or be diverted by other objects from an enter- 
prise which could be only secondary in his eyes. 
But when tidings arrived that the all-powerful king 
was coming himself to superintend the military 
operations, the regent's councillors decided that 

* Notice the technical words : rtan» nwib, IWJMi nr%Df 

•f See vol. i. p. 165 and following. 

J Verse xiii. "|fWD in parallelism with *!|D¥. 


the city must surrender. "When Nebuchadnezzar 
approached, no doubt from the north, Jehoiachin 
marched out of the city, with the regent, his mother, 
Nehusta, all his household, his officers, ministers, 
and eunuchs, and surrendered themselves to the 
King of Babylon. They seem to have been received 
very harshly. Jehoiachin was deposed, and his ex- 
treme youth did not save him from being carried 
into captivity, from which he was not freed until 
thirty-six years later. In all he had reigned only 
three months.* 

Nebuchadnezzar neither destroyed the city nor 
massacred the population. He carried out in Jeru- 
salem the system of transportation which Shalma- 
neser had adopted in Samaria and the kingdom of 
the Worth, but on a smaller scale. The king, the 
queen-mother, the king's wives, his eunuchs, all 
his household, officers, ministers, officials, the well- 
to-do people, and every man who could carry arms, 
were transported to Babylon or to Mesopotamia. t 
According to an apparently ancient and authentic 
estimate,^ three thousand and twenty-three people 
were carried away : about one-sixth of the popu- 
lation of Jerusalem. But it comprised the whole 
civil and military aristocracy. The conquerors 

* 2 Kings, ch. xxiv. v. 10 and following; Ezekiel, ch. xvii. 
v. 11 and following. 

■f Jeremiah, ch. xxix. v. 1 and following. 

| Jeremiah, ch. lii. v. 28. The account in 2 Kings, ch. xxiv. 
v. 1 6 is exaggerated and contradictory. 


were under a common delusion that in removing 
the head of the nation they effectually crippled it. 
They did not realise that an intense vitality diffused 
through a large body reasserts itself, even when 
the vital parts have been amputated. A garden is 
destroyed by cutting off the flowers, but the growth 
of a meadow is increased by mowing. The system 
of class division in Israel was not strong enough 
for the transportation of the important men to 
arrest the movement of the nation. Another cir- 
cumstance rendered the arrangement made by 
Nebuchadnezzar, in order to crush the hierosolymite 
opposition, almost useless in attaining the end he 
had in view. 

In the long list of those carried into captivity, 
given in the book of Kings, there is no mention of 
priests, Lévites, or prophets.* They all remained 
in Jerusalem, surrounding the temple, despoiled, it 
is true, of its most valuable treasures, but doubly 
venerated on that account. Now, the spirit of the 
nation was in a great measure embodied in the 
Levitical and prophetic party. Jeremiah was not 
transported. Did the Assyrians realise that this 
rough opponent had been their most powerful 
auxiliary ? This is not probable. They did not 
enter into these questions of sects, and neither 
Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, nor Habakkuk, appear 

* The book of Jeremiah, ch. xix. v. 1-2, mentions priests and 
prophets at Babylon (towards 592), but too casually for us to draw 
any conclusion from the words. 


to have been disturbed. There were many excep- 
tiens to this rule, since Ezekiel, who formed part 
of the first list of captives, was a cohen. But if a 
great number of the cohanim had formed part of 
this first transportation, the author of the book of 
Kings would certainly have mentioned it ; as to the 
Lévites, doubtless in his eyes they formed part of 
the dallât am ha-arec s the inferior mass of the people, 
who were not worth the trouble of transportation. 

Nebuchadnezzar therefore pursued a very super- 
ficial policy at Jerusalem. He acted like a power 
that, seeking to destroy the ascendency of Paris, 
drove out of it all the rich and important men, 
leaving all the people, the journalists, and political 
writers. It was easy to foresee that the incendiary 
elements which remained in the city would again 
take fire. The rough Chaldeans only recognised 
material strength, and apparently the military 
power of Judah was annihilated. The poverty 
must have been overwhelming, the country was 
devastated, and the agricultural population had 
almost disappeared. 

Everything valuable, according to the ideas of 
the time, became the prey of the conqueror.* The 
treasures of the temple and of the royal palace were 
carried away by the Chaldeans. The golden vessels 
of the temple were broken in pieces and removed. 
The brazen vessels of the temple and of the wealthy 

• 2 Kings, ch. xxiv. y. 13 and following. 


houses of Jerusalem were left.* Those portions of 
the temple that were of brass, particularly the two 
pillars, the great sea, and the bases, were equally 
respected. f The religious services were probably 
continued even during the last fatal days of the 
siege, for no doubt the Lévites and anavim found 
excellent reasons that confirmed them in their faith 
at that disastrous time. These misfortunes had all 
overtaken the city in order that a prophecy of 
Isaiah should be accomplished, % which punished 
the vanity displayed by Hezekiah in showing his 
treasures to the messengers of Merodach-Baladan. 

The blow dealt at Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar's 
expedition was not therefore so serious as might be 
supposed. § Jehoiachin's uncle, Mattaniah, son of 
Josiah and Hamutal, who was then thirty-one years 
of age, was placed upon the throne by the King of 
Babylon, instead of the deposed king. || His royal 
name was Sidqiahou, which the Greek and Latin 
versions have changed into Zedekiah. 

* Jeremiah, ch. 27, v. 19 and following. 

f Jeremiah, I. c. 

I 2 Kings, ch. xx. v. 12 and following. (Is. ch. xxxix.) See 
above, p. 100. 

§ There is scarcely any trace of it in Jeremiah. 

I According to Kings, 2 ch. xxiv. v. 18, he was only twenty- 
one. He would then have been born thirteen years after his 
uterine brother Jehoahaz. This is contrary to all the customs of 
the East, where the women usually have their children in rapid 
succession at about eighteen or twenty years of age. Besides, the 
passage in Jeremiah, ch. lii. v. 10, infers that his children were 
adults in 588. 



Zedekiah, like his brother Jehoahaz, had imbibed 
from his mother, Hamutal, a strong prejudice 
against the pietists, who had directed the national 
policy during the later years of his father's reign. 
Jeremiah and the prophets were almost as hostile 
to him as to Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, or Jehoiachin, 
solely because he was tolerant; and the tolerance 
of the sovereigns opened the door to a religious 
eclecticism, in suffer able, to the fanatics.* It appears 
that this eclecticism permitted idols to be installed 
even in the temple itself .f In any case the practice 
of burning incense on many of the roofs in honour 
of Baal I had recommenced, heathen rites were 
secretly practised, § and cases of Molochism had 

* £ee below, pp. 267-268, the description of the customs ot. 
Jerusalem given by Ezekiel. 
•f Jeremiah, ch. xxxii. p. 34. 
J Jeremiah, ch. xxxii. p. 34. See above, p. 149, 
§ Ezekiel, ch. xxiii. v. 11 and following. 


again occurred in Ben-Hinnom.* Jeremiah, there- 
fore, never for one day during the whole reign of 
eleven years, ceased uttering the most violent denun- 
ciations against the official world. Sometimes he 
is animated by a real feeling of justice. t But, as 
a rule, this furious soul is less filled with melan- 
choly than with anger. On the whole, circumstances 
had verified his prophecies ; but this only rendered 
him more imperious and more exacting. Far from 
becoming reconciled to the conditions of social life 
in the city, he plunged deeper into contumacy in 
his foolish admiration for the Rechabites and his 
indifference to profane civilisation. 

Zedekiah appears to have tried every means of 
saving the remnant of his lost nation. The journey 
apparently made to Babylon in the fourth year of his 
reign % was intended to deceive his suzerain. During 
this time he negotiated and armed. A dynasty, even 
in decadence, is always a centre of the national 
spirit. § Towards the year 595, the kings of 
Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon, held a sort 
of congress through their ambassadors at Jerusalem, 
no doubt in order to form an alliance against the 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxxii. v. 35 (cf. ch. vii. v. 30 and following) ; 
Ezekiel, ch. xvi. v. 20-21; ch. xxiii. v. 37; perhaps ch. xliii. v. 7. 

I Jeremiah, ch. xxi. v. 11-12. 

\ Jeremiah, ch. li. v. 59. 

§ Jeremiah, ch. xxvii. and xxviii. The first verse of ch. xxvii. 
contains one evident mistake of the copyist, Jehoiakim for Zedekiah. 
The verses 7 and 19-22 of ch. xxvii., which are missing in the 
Greek, are suspected of at least partial interpolation. 

VOL. III. 8 


common enemy. Hope reawakened on every side. 
Several prophets arose, especially one Hananiah, 
the son of Azzur of Gibeon, and in the name of 
Iahveh announced that the rule of Babylon would 
soon come to an end. Hananiah went to and fro 
in the city, repeating the words : " I have broken 
the yoke of the king of Babylon ! I will break the 
yoke of the king of Babylon !" The relief was to 
come in two years. A great number of the people 
believed in these promises, which flattered their 
hopes and their passions. 

Jeremiah felt that these dangerous illusions 
could only be counteracted by methods of extreme 
violence. To render his belief in the certainty of 
the future captivity more visible, he went through 
the streets and public places for several consecutive 
days, wearing pieces of wood bound with cords 
upon his neck, in imitation of the yoke worn by 
oxen at the plough. He also pretended to have 
received a command tp send similar yokes to the 
five kings, with the following message, supposed to 
be dictated by Iahveh : "I have made the earth, 
the man and the beast that are upon the face of the 
earth, by my great power and by my outstretched 
arm ; and I give it unto whom it seemeth right 
unto me. And now have I given all these lands 
into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the King of 
Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field 
also have I given to serve him. And it shall come 
to pass, that the nation and the kingdom which 


will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar, King of 
Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the 
yoke of the King of Babylon, that nation will I 
punish, saith Iahveh, with the sword, and with the 
famine, and with the pestilence, until I have con- 
sumed them by his hand." The horrible doctrine, 
that a man is guilty of sin if he do not submit to 
the tyranny of the day, because it is supposed to 
have received a commission from God, was preached 
by Jeremiah in every key. A stranger, an infidel, 
shall enjoy the rights of legitimacy, solely because 
he is a great destroyer, impudently asserting him- 
self. Iahveh is on the side of Nebuchadnezzar; 
therefore, whoever resists Nebuchadnezzar resists 
Iahveh. The less pessimist and more patriotic pro- 
phets, who announced that the enterprise would 
succeed, were liars. " They prophesy a lie unto 
you, to remove you far from your land ; and that I 
should drive you out and that ye should perish. 
But the nation that shall bring their neck under 
the yoke of the King of Babylon, and serve him, 
that nation will I let remain in their own land, and 
they shall till it and dwell therein." " Bend your 
neck," said Jeremiah to Zedekiah, "that ye may 
live." Iahveh hath decreed that all who will not 
serve the King of Babylon shall perish. Iahveh 
hath commanded the false prophets to prophesy 
falsely ; so that he may have a reason for dis- 
persing the rebels and causing them to perish. One 

of the promises most frequently repeated by the 

• 2 


prophets who opposed Jeremiah, particularly by 
Hananiah, was that one of the first fruits of the 
victory of the allied kingdoms of the region of the 
Jordan, besides the return of Jehoiakim and his 
fellow captives, would be the restitution to Jeru- 
salem of the golden vases belonging to the temple, 
which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away. This 
spoliation had reduced the temple to a state of 
poverty that weighed painfully upon every Irsael- 
itish heart. The possibility of contradiction upon 
such an important point irritated Jeremiah con- 
siderably. He cared little for the temple or for the 
vessels used in the ritual. The desolation of the 
sacred building was rather a confirmation of his 
threats. His reply to the hopes awakened by Hana- 
niah is curious.* The duty of the true prophets is 
to predict evil. When they prophesy good things, 
there is only the event to prove their mission ; the 
presumption, according to the prophetic history of 
the past, being always, in favour of the dismal 

The people were evidently predisposed towards 
Hananiah. One day, when Jeremiah, wearing the 
yoke upon his neck, was seated in the court of the 
temple, in the presence of the priests and people, 
Hananiah, emboldened by the unpopularity of the 
fanatic, who frequented all the public places, defy- 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxvii. v. 16 and following. The account is 
confused. There are two texts superposed. The second text, 
21-22, has been substituted post eventum. 


ing tlie hopes of the patriots, gave vent to his 
anger. He took the joke from the neck of the 
prophet of evil and broke it, nttering these solemn 
words : " Thus saith Iahveh, Even so have I 
broken the yoke of the King of Babylon. Within 
two full years will I break the yoke of Nebuchad- 
nezzar, the King of Babylon, from off the neck of all 
the nations." No doubt his words were vigorously 
applauded, for Jeremiah retired in confusion. In a 
few days he regained his ascendency : " Thou hast 
broken the bars of wood ; but thou shalt make in 
their stead bars of iron;" thus indicating that the 
revolt, for which they were preparing, would cause 
a state of tolerable subjection to be replaced by a 
state of unendurable slavery. Alas ! he was right. 
It is a terrible fact that, at certain times, there is 
no medium between unpalatable wisdom and the 
wilful blindness demanded by patriotism. 

Hananiah died two months later. It was asserted 
that Jeremiah had foretold his approaching death as 
a punishment for the false mission he had assumed. 

The correspondence between Jerusalem and the 
captives in Babylon was very active ; and it con- 
tributed in no small measure to fan the fire on both 
sides. Overflowing piety impregnated all the mes- 
sages that came from the banks of the Euphrates. 
Imagine, in the years that followed 1871, the 
letters that might have passed between the exiles 
of Noumea and the communists left in Paris, they 
would give some idea of the mutual excitement 


which this correspondence must have maintained in 
the two fractions of the Jewish family. The letter 
written in the style of a sermon, the epistle (iggeret), 
became the usual type of the sacred literature of 
the Jews, and replaced the prophetic surate, which 
was intended for recitation. 

One of Jeremiah's prophetic visions relates to 
this period, and clearly expresses the opposition 
which existed between the two divisions of Judah.* 
In it we plainly see the little value which the 
prophet placed upon the small kingdom which 
still survived, and the frankness with which 
he proclaimed it, at the risk of discouraging 
those who had endeavoured to save something 
from the recent shipwreck of their native land. 
Two baskets of figs were placed before the 
temple, the one full of good figs, the other of 
bad ones. The first represented the captives in 
Chaldea; the second, those who had remained in 
Jerusalem, particularly Zedekiah, his officers, and 
the Jews who had settled in Egypt. Repentance, 
according to the Iahveist ideas, was a purifying 
sentiment. The exiles had expiated their faults; 
Iahveh had touched and purified them; Iahveh 
would replant and restore them. On the other 
hand, Jerusalem did not reform, but refused to 

* Ch. xxiv., partly repeated in ch. xxix. v. 16-26, a transposed 
passage. We must remember that these surates were only written 
during the captivity, and therefore several points may have been 
forced in them. 


listen to the true prophets. Zedekiah and his court 
would be exterminated; the house of David was 
nearly ended. 

In fact, from this time, the idea became estab- 
lished that the band carried into captivity by the 
Chaldeans, and to which ten years later a large 
number was added, was the true Israel. Jeremiah 
reserved all his sympathy for these unfortunates.* 
The exiles of the Euphrates contributed by their 
letters to the inculcation of the same feeling. They 
looked upon themselves as victims already forgiven, 
whilst Jerusalem continued to irritate Iahveh. A 
group of Hierosolymites had been sent in canton- 
ments to a place called Tel-Abib, upon the 
borders of the Chebar, a tributary of the 
Euphrates which descended from the mountains 
in the interior of Mesopotamia. Amongst them 
was the young priest from Jerusalem, Ezekiel, the 
son of Buzi, whom we saw carried away by the 
conquerors in 598. He was the centre of a pious 
group which met in his house and listened to him 
as an oracle. t Five years after his transportation 
the Spirit of God came upon him and showed 
him strange visions. The turn of the prophetic 
imagination had changed. Their conceptions of 
the glory of Iahveh had become more complicated. 

* Certain passages in Ezekiel (en. xiv. v. 1 and following), 
however show that idolatry was not completely extirpated from 
amongst the exiled community. 

t Ezekiel, ch. viii. v. 1 ; ch. xiv. v. 1; ch. xx. v. 1, 4. 


lahveh is no longer found in the roaring tempest, 
the bursting storm, the burning fire, the passing 
wind. He now dwells in an azure heaven, an 
empyrean of light, he is surrounded by supernatural 
monsters, living machines, wheels within wheels, a 
vast svstem of the transmission of force, which 
only differs from our idea of transcendent machinery 
by the consciousness and the individual wills with 
which this great organisation is endowed. This 
was the beginning of the style in which the 
Apocalypses were written, and which was so much 
appreciated during the epoch of the Maccabees, and 
afterwards by the Christians. Above all, it was 
the commencement of the Kabbala, which developed 
itself later on, during the decadence of Israel. 

The mysterious chariot, the holy merhaba of 
Ezekiel,* bore with it the germ of many aberra- 
tions. The cherubim and the symbols of the 
sanctuary suggested the chief elements of this style. 
It is also possible that the symbolic bulls of Assyria, 
which Ezekiel might have seen, had some influence 
over his conceptions. In any case, it is certain that 
at this epoch, new monsters appeared to disturb the 
imagination of Israel, which, until then, had been 
so eurythmie and so pure. The limits which the 
prophets of Hezekiah's century imposed upon them- 
selves, even in their moments of wildest inspiration, 
had almost disappeared. A kind of romanticism 

* Compare the money alluded to, vol. i. p. 160, note 2. 


manifests itself, which is quite opposed to the good 
taste, classic in its way, displayed in the ancient 
literature. The style of Bzekiel is inferior in 
every way to that of the writers of the eighth 
and seventh centuries. The image is frequently 
eccentric and misses its aim. Sometimes, however, 
it is wonderfully forcible,* Many of those striking 
expressions called " Biblical " are taken from 
Ezekiel. The Apocalypse of Patmos is only an 
elaborate copy of the great apparitions of the river 
Chebar. Christianity owes- more to Ezekiel than 
to any other prophet, perhaps excepting the second 

Ezekiel's ideas are almost identical with those of 
Jeremiah. There is no trace of rational philosophy 
in them. Sometimes an instinct of some depth 
leads him to represent Iahveh as the supreme force, 
the central organism of the universe ; but this 
central motor intervenes in the most minute way 
in human affairs. The Providence of Ezekiel is 
perhaps less capricious, less personal than that of 
the ancient prophets; still Iahveh follows a very 
decided policy, of which Israel is always the centre. 
According to Ezekiel and all the prophets, Iahveh 
is a God jealous of mankind ; any superiority is an 
insult to Him. He lowers the mighty, exalts the 
humble ; dries up the green tree and makes the dry 
tree flourish. f When He wishes to punish His ways 

* Notice particularly the fine succession of images, ch. xxi. 
t Ezekiel, ch. xvii. v. 24. 


are really curious. He commands evil in order to 
avenge himself; and punishes a nation by pre- 
scribing detestable rites, such as the sacrifice of 
children. Wishing to inflict the most cruel chas- 
tisement upon a people in the loss of its first- 
born, he leads it to kill them itself by prescribing 
" Molochism."* This enormity is not greater than 
when Iahveh misleads the nations, hardens Pharaoh's 
heart, or inspires false nabi, to the undoing of those 
who listen to them. 

It is, however, remarkable that in Ezekiel the 
justice of Iahveh is less summary than in the other 
Hebrew writings. Sincere conversion is followed 
by the obliteration of the past ; a man is not 
responsible for the crimes of his ancestors. Each 
individual is punished for his own faults only. He 
who repents is saved, but he does not save others. t 
One would think that the author wishes to protest 
against the idea cherished by the school of Jeremiah 
that the piety of later generations cannot efface the 
crimes of their fathers. The despairing people of 
Judah had but one explanation of the misfortunes 
which overwhelmed them in spite of their piety, 
namely, the inexpiable crimes of Manasseh. Ezekiel 
seemed to fear that this principle might be applied 
to his fellow captives, and that Iahveh would render 
them responsible for the misdeeds of the Hierosoly- 

* Ezekiel, ch. xx. v. 25-26. 

t Ezekiel, ch. xiv, v. 14 and following; ch. xviii. v. 1 and 



mites. A guilty town might contain three men like 
Noah, Daniel, and Job. These three men should be 
saved by their piety, but they should not save any 
one with them.* A pious man surrounded by evil 
need not be discouraged, the chastisement which 
would fall upon the sinful would not touch him. 

Nearly every year, from 595 until the last invest- 
ment of Jerusalem (590), Ezekiel sent his prophetic 
visions to his brethren in Judah.f We should 
expect to find a tone of consolation in these mes- 
sages, but it does not exist, they contain nothing 
but threats and bitter reproaches. $ The author 
is singularly well informed as to all that is taking 
place in Jerusalem. He knows the leaders of each 
party and all the influential men by name.§ Jehoi- 
achin's misfortunes have not improved them. Some 
impious men even assert that this catastrophe is a 
proof that lahveh has abandoned the land, that He 
no longer cares for the title of Grod of Judah. || The 
Hierosolymites are worse than the heathen. \ The 
most serious men practised idolatry and worshipped 
the rising sun. Idols were seen on all sides ; on 
the banks of the river the women performed the 
pathetic rites of the Adonis.** There were Lévites 

* Ezekiel, ch. xiv. v. 19-23. 
f Ezekiel, from ch. i. to ch. xxiii. inclusively. 
\ Ezekiel, ch. xx., xxi., etc. 
§ Ezekiel, ch. viii. v. 11; ch. xi. v. 1. 
|| Ezekiel, ch. viii. y. 12, and ch. ix. v. 9. 
f Ezekiel, ch. 5. 
** Ezekiel, ch. viii. v. 14. 


who officiated in the foreign ritnal of the uncircum- 
cised aliens who celebrated the worship of Iahveh.* 
These abominations took place at the door of the 
temple, only separated from the sanctuary itself by 
a single wall. The king presided over them and 
sanctioned the monstrous cruelties of the worship of 
Moloch. t The temple itself was sullied by them, 
and the most abominable practices defiled the sacred 

The prophet particularly delighted in the allegory 
of the two sisters, Oholah and Oholibah, signifying 
Samaria and Jerusalem courting aliens from their 
earliest youth, doting upon them from the portraits 
that they saw drawn in vermilion upon the walls, 
abandoning themselves to every crime with them, 
to find at last ignominy and death in their infamous 
caresses. § 

It is true that all these writings are extremely 
exaggerated. In this picture, strangely painted in 
the blackest tints, the personal antipathies of the 
cleric, the information which he daily received, are 
too strongly felt. We realise the pious coterie with 
its gossip and petty tattle. In the eyes of the exiled 
prophet the elders connected with the sanctuary are 
the most guilty ; || false prophets and a low class of 

* Ezekiel, eh. xliv. v. 5 and following. 

\ Ezekiel, ch. xliii. v. 7 and following. Cf. xxxiii. v. 39. 

J Ezekiel, ch. viii. 

§ Ezekiel, ch. xxiii. 

|| Ezekiel, ch. ix. v. 6. 


female sorcerers swarm on every side.* And, still 
more singular, there are people who do not believe 
in prophecies. f The saints form a select party in 
the city, lamenting the crimes committed around 
them. Innocent blood flows in the streets. { The 
messengers of the celestial vengeance mark the 
elect by tracing the sign thav (a cross, the ancient 
thav formed this sign) upon their foreheads; the 
remainder of the people is doomed to death; the 
massacre would commence in the temple and its 
neighbourhood. § 

There is no difference between the policy of 
Ezekiel and that of Jeremiah. || Bzekiel apostro- 
phises the king in the roughest manner.^" Nebu- 
chadnezzar performs a providential mission ; he is 
the agent of Iahveh and must be respected. Zede- 
kiah is guilty. He had sworn to Nebuchadnezzar 
that he would not arm, that he would be humble 
and weak; now he is perpetually seeking war 
chariots and soldiers from Egypt. By this he 
insults Iahveh, who has given the power to Nebu- 
chadnezzar.** He shall be punished for his perjury 
and carried to Babylon, where he will expiate his 

* Ezekiel, ch. xiii. and xxii., the whole chapters, 
f Ezekiel, ch. xii. v. 23-28. 

J Ezekiel, ch. xxii. v. 3, 6 ; ch. xxiv. v. 6, 8, 9, and the surplus 
of the Greek after v. 14. 
§ Ezekiel, ch. ix. 

I See particularly ch. xvii., xix., xxi. 
% Ezekiel, ch. xxi. v. 30. 
** Ezekiel, ch. xyii. v. 11 and following. 


crime.* His army will be destroyed, the remnant 
of the nation will be dispersed. f Then Iahveh will 
gather his people together from out of the countries 
where he has scattered them. All Israel will be 
reunited and restored in one centre, Jerusalem. % 
Jerusalem and Samaria will meet with the same 
fate ; § but the ulterior future will belong to Jeru- 
salem only. 

To the captives in Mesopotamia, Ezekiel can only 
advise patience. Absolutely hostile to any idea of 
revolt against a power which appears to him the 
expression of fatality or rather of the will of Iahveh, 
he counsels them to wait patiently for the end. Not 
all the prophets of the captivity are equally resigned. 
Exiles usually create illusions for themselves, and 
many of the captives in Babylon believed them- 
selves on the eve of returning. || Prophets arose 
amongst them who foretold their speedy deliverance. 
The unfortunate colonists, deceived by these pro- 
mises, made no stable r settlement in the land of 
their exile. Instead of cultivating the land which 
had been given to them they considered themselves 
but temporary captives, who might be restored to 
their homes from one day to another. Ahab, the 
son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah, the son of Maaseiah, 

* Ezekiel, ch. xii., xxi., etc. 

f Ezekiel, ch. xv., etc. 

\ Ezekiel, ch. xx. v. 40. 

§ Ezekiel, ch. xxiii. 

J| Jeremiah, ch. xxix. (towards 592). 


are particularly quoted, for it seems that they in- 
cited the Jews to rebellion. Movements like those 
of Hananiah of Gibeon, in Judea, must surely have 
contributed to these dreams of self-blinding pa- 

Jeremiah once more resumed his self-imposed 
mission of discouraging the national hopes. He 
took advantage of an embassy, composed of Elasah, 
the son of Shaphan, and Gremariah, the son of 
Hilkiah, sent by Zedekiah to Nebuchadnezzar to 
transmit a letter to the exiles.* This message con- 
tains some wise counsels, which during many cen- 
turies have formed the rules of the dispersed Jews.f 
On the other hand, if Jeremiah wished to serve the 
ends of the Babylonian government he could not 
have expressed himself better. We know that, in 
great national misfortunes, a man, by too much 
sincerity, easily acquires the similitude of a traitor, 
an enemy to his country. 

The prophet is never tolerant towards his fellows. 
If we had all the private correspondence of the 
saints we should find several pages amongst them 
like the one in Jeremiah xxix.J 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxix. 

t jyabwi *3 ... hdk> ddh« *n^>jn i^« tvh dw na wr\ ù)h& 

D2? rpn\ This renders a Jew's advice almost invariably useful in 
all matters relating to the internal affairs of a country. But it is 
clear, on the other hand, that it makes them good municipal coun- 
cillors, but not true patriots. 

% Jeremiah, ch. xxix. v. 15-23, suppressing 16-20, which are 
missing in the Greek, and are only an equivalent of ch. xxiv. 


Jeremiah's letter produced a very bad effect in 
Babylon. One of the exiled prophets, Shemaiah 
the Nehelamite, wrote to the keeper of the temple, 
Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah, asking why he 
had not rebuked Jeremiah for making himself a 
prophet ? * 

Zephaniah read the letter to Jeremiah, who 
replied by a cruel prophecy against Shemaiah. 

Here is the sore of Hebrew prophetism, of Mus- 
sulman Madhism, and of Semitic inspiration in 
general. The greatest sin, according to believers, 
is refusing to listen when God speaks through his 
true prophets. f But who is the true prophet ? By 
what sign can he be recognised? Really there is 
but his own assertion, which always leaves a loop- 
hole for adverse statements. The prophet has 
neither strength nor reason behind him ; he rarely 
appeals to miracles. Quod gratis asseritur gratis 
negatur, A frightful dilemma, which, combined 
with the dogma of the, identification of God with 
his prophet, cannot fail to engender terrible fanati- 
cism and to provoke atrocious injustice ! Jeremiah 
horrifies us when we see him revelling in the pros- 
pect of a rival prophet being slowly roasted to 
death by Nebuchadnezzar ; Jeremiah considered it 
perfectly natural. The unfortunate man, in ex- 

* The successor to Pashour. See above, p. 138. 
\ Jeremiah, ch. xxxyii. v. 2. 


pressing an opinion that differed from his own, had 
inculcated rebellion against Iahveh. 

Still, in all this book, we must make allowance 
for the colossal exaggeration which every thought 
received from Oriental rhetoric. And we must also 
remember that had the people listened to Jeremiah's 
odious declamations frightful massacres would have 
been averted. In critical moments the patriot who 
tries to make the vanquished realise the power of 
the conqueror is always taken for an ally of the 
foreigner. " Submit yourselves to the King of 
Babylon that ye may live." These were hard 
words for the listeners. Imagine, in the month 
of July, 1870, a journalist marching through the 
boulevards of Paris, a horse's collar round his neck, 
predicting the victory of the Prussians ; every one 
would certainly have considered the action of the 
enthusiast highly reprehensible. In these circum- 
stances no one can be excused for seeing clearly 
until after events have spoken for themselves. 
Jeremiah's conduct cannot therefore be entirely 
condemned. Events soon proved that if he were 
greatly mistaken in the style of his prophecies, he 
was perfectly right in the substance of his words. 




The idealism of Israel never appeared more triumph- 
ant than in this terrible moment when the future 
seemed closed to it. Precisely at this time, the race, 
that was always protesting against fate, founded 
the religion of faith and hope. Jeremiah's me- 
lancholy nature did not tend towards such dreams, 
but certain facts prove that the Jewish imagination 
was able to create a paradise for itself, even in 
those years, when the sword of Nebuchadnezzar was 
apparently sole monarch of the world. The greatest 
contrasts were evolved by this wonderful genius, 
endowed with such extraordinary religious virtual- 
ly, yet often seeming to delight in its own negation, 
and to take pleasure in mocking itself. 

We readily attribute to this period a prophet, 
in some respects opposed to Jeremiah, whose writ- 
ings have been unaccountably preserved to us.* 

* Zechariah, ch. xii.-xiv. See vol. ii. p. 391-392. This fragment, 
save for the interpolations which may be found in it, is anterior to 


He was certainly one of the most sensible men of 
his time. A strong partisan of the house of David, 
he still appears to mourn for the death of Josiah 
and the defeat of Megiddo.* In the ideal picture 
of the future, he classes together the end of idolatry 
and the end of prophetism ; the latter institution 
had become so much depreciated. In fact the abuse 
of prophetism had produced a reaction. Many 
sensible people had taken an aversion to this strange 
profession, which frequently covered a great deal 
of charlatanism and dishonesty. f The most varied, 
schools at last proclaimed, that prophecy would soon 
be the common gift of all the community and not 
the privilege of a few of its members.}: 

So that wise parents seeing their son inclining 
towards the trade of a prophet would, put him to 
death, or thrash him, to prevent him from becoming 
an ill-omened being. The prophets themselves 
would be ashamed of their chimeras ; they would 
prefer labouring in the fields to prophetism. The 
reform predicted by this visionary, himself inimical 
to visions, consists in the spirit of prayer and 

the Captivity, and posterior to the battle of Megiddo. Zechariah, 
ch. xiv. v. 9, is an allusion to Deuteronomy, ch. vi. 4. Zechariah, 
ch. xiii. v. 3, also appears to be an allusion to the laws of Deute- 
ronomy against false prophets. 

* Zechariah, ch. xii. v. 11. 

The book of Jonah relates to the same class of ideas ; but we 
believe it to bep osterior to the Captivity. See below, p, 416, and 

J Zechariah, xiii. 2 and following, 

t 2 


purity. The day of Iahveh would see a complete 
transformation of all things. Judea, now so barren, 
would become the source of the irrigation of the 
world.* Living waters issuing from Jerusalem 
would flow on one side to the Mediterranean, on 
the other to the Dead Sea, and they would be as 
abundant in summer as in winter. The enemies of 
Judah should be punished; but they should after- 
wards be converted and assemble yearly, to cele- 
brate the feast of tabernacles at Jerusalem. The 
nations that did not come should have no more 
rain. Everything should bear the mark of Iahveh, 
everything should become sacred. Horses, pre- 
viously devoted to the use of luxury and war, and 
as such excluded from Jerusalem, f should now 
belong to Iahveh. Sacrifices to Iahveh might be 
offered in any vessel, so that merchants should no 
longer be seen in the temple asking money for the 
hire of basins and trafficking in holy things. { 

The author of these strange pages, who might 
easily be called the Great Idealist of Israel, § was 
a prophet or perhaps a priest. Those who are 
familiar with religious history will not be more 
surprised to find the words against prophetism 

* Compare Joel, ch. iv. v. 18, and Ezekiel, ch. xlvii. v. 1-12. 

\ Zechariah, ch ix. v. 10 ; ch. x. v. 5. 

\ Zechariah, ch. xiv. v. 20-21. 

§ It is remarkable that the writer, who maintained the same 
spirit during the Captivity, the so-called second Isaiah, has also 
remained anonymous, or rather his work has also been handed 
down to us under the name of another prophet. 


issuing from the mouth of a prophet, than to see 
the protestations against the clericalism of the 
Middle Ages emanating from priests and monks. 
How many priests have been seen in our own 
century, fretting against the cassock, and proclaim- 
ing that one day a peasant's smock will be preferred 
to it! The cry of reform against the abuses of the 
sanctuary always starts from the sanctuary itself. 
It was natural that satirical attacks upon the 
prophets should come from one who wore " the 
hairy mantle."* 

From all sides Israel was thus approaching idealism, 
the conception of a new religion (a new covenant), 
which should replace the ancient alliance, and in 
which all the world should be priests — of a law 
written in the conscience of each man, which he 
need not learn from any one else,f which he would 
find in the inspirations of his own heart.}: The 
extraordinary liberality of Jewish ideas upon indi- 
vidual inspiration left the path open to every change, 
to any religious progress. The covenant of Sinai 
did not prevent the Jews from dreaming of a more 
refined compact. They did not imagine that this 
idea could be any insult to Moses. If Christianity, 

* See below, p. 417 and following, referring to Jonah. 

f Compare Deutero-Isaiah, ch. liv. v. 13. 

J Jeremiah, ch. xxxi. v. 33-35. It is possible that the disciples 
of Jeremiah, who edited his book during the Captivity, have added 
something here to their master's thought; but that could only 
make a difference of a few years. See below, p. 330, and following, 
p. 3G3 and following. 


in proving that it had fulfilled the ancient pro- 
phecies, had confined itself to quoting these verses,* 
it would have avoided a good many tricks of futile 
exegesis. Christianity soon forgot the programme, 
which its founder had borrowed from the prophets, 
and became like other religions, a religion of priests 
and sacrifices, of observances and superstitions. But 
the germ planted in religious tradition by the in- 
spired writings of Israel could not perish. All who 
seek a God without priests, a revelation without 
prophets, a covenant written in the heart, are in 
many respects disciples of these ancient visionaries. 
The ritual was always the great source of embar- 
rassment to the religious zealots of Israel. Carried 
to their logical consequences, the arguments of the 
pious men of that date would have led to the sup- 
pression of all sacrifices. The puritan Iahveists, 
like the Essenes of a later date, loudly asserted 
that praise (toda) and prayer are the only sacrifice 
acceptable to G-od.f And yet the temple, at first 
little appreciated by the pietists, $ had for the last 
century become the centre of Iahveism, as much 
from the idealistic and reforming point of view as 
from the materialistic and popular aspect. 

* Compare 2 Corinthians, ch. iii. v. 3 and following; Hebrews, 
ch. viii. v. 8 and following. The expression Kaivrj btad>)Kri of the 
early Christians refers to the fine passage quoted above from 
Jeremiah. It seems that Jesus also used this passage. Mark, 
ch. xiv. v. 24; Matthew, ch. xxvi. v. 28. 

| See particularly Psalm 1. 

J See vol. ii. p. 120 and following. 


The anonymous writer of whom we have been 
speaking is much attached to it.* Not one of the 
prophets hints at the possibility of suppressing it, 
and we shall soon see that after its total destruc- 
tion in 588, the sole thought of the anavim was how 
to rebuild it. It thus happened that the school 
which in principle was most hostile to the temple 
became the fanatical supporter of the temple ; that 
the idea of a pure worship, in which God has no 
visible dwelling place, spread by the side of the 
house of stone built by Solomon. As we have 
already said, the temple in the course of time had 
become a mosque — a centre of religious agitation. 
The courts and the smaller buildings which sur- 
rounded it had been enormously enlarged. It had 
become the subject of many prophecies, and the new 
Levitism which had developed since the reign of 
Josiah was an inflammable material, already care- 
fully prepared for the reception of the anavite ideas. 
In truth during these critical years there was not 
much distinction between the two groups of Lévites 
and prophets. 

All this little world grouped itself round the 
temple, and lived in a moral activity that certainly 
no other temple of antiquity ever excited. The 
Lévites all became saints, full of love for Iahveh. 
The same jealousies arose between them and the 
priests that are seen between servants courting the 
same master. These pious sacristans envied the 

* Zechariah, ch. xiv. v. 20-21. 


haughty priesthood, which had an exclusive right 
to approach the altar. They consoled themselves 
with the reflection, that soon the most humble 
vessels used in the ritual would be held in equal 
honour with the vessels of gold handled only by 
the priests.* The Psalms continued their rich and 
powerful development. It is a pity that the six- 
teenth Psalm has been so much altered ; it is per- 
haps one of the finest Levitical elegies. t 

All the melancholy of clerical life, all the tender 
recollections of devout observances practised with 
others, all the alternations of bitterness and hope 
felt by a pious heart in its struggle against the 
evidences of a sad reality, are admirably expressed 
in a Psalm, % which, unfortunately, is rendered 
obscure to us by numerous errors and many allu- 
sions difficult to understand. The author seems to 
have been thrown by the troubles of the time into 
the region of Hermon of the Upper Jordan, towards 

The temple in its last days therefore sheltered 
some pious souls, who in the midst of the storms 
in the outer world found perfect happiness beneath 
its roof. Men with upright hearts who know Iahveh 
have nothing to fear. 

The image, most reassuring to the devout per- 

* Zechariah, ch. xiv. v. 20. 

\ Psalm x. appears to belong to the same time ; it is also much 
altered. We may say the same of Psalm iv. 

\ Psalm xlii. and xliii. united. Compare Psalm lxjii. 


sonages who lovingly clustered round the sacred 
walls, was of the large wings widely spread, shel- 
tering under their protection the gerim or neigh- 
bours of Iahveh.* Was it not evident that Iahveh, 
for the sake of his own honour, would defend his 
house, his inheritance, his servants, against all the 
dangers which threatened them? f 

* Psalm xvii. v. 8 ; xxxvi. v. 8 ; lvii. v. 2 ; lxi. y. 5 j lxiii. y. 8. 
Cf. vol. ii. p. 44. 

f Psalm cxyiii. y. 6, eto. 



The situation of the unfortunate Zedekiah, between 
those who wished to debar him from every hope 
of revenge and the legitimate aspirations of the 
patriots who surrounded him, was no longer ten- 
able.* Jeremiah, foaming with rage, daily sounded 
his frightful alarm-bell. On the other hand, Egypt 
was rising. The Egyptian alliance always gleamed 
before the eves of the Judaites : fate had decreed 
that they should be drawh into it.f It was an error, 
but one of those errors which it is impossible to 
avoid. The accession of Hophra (Apries), King of 
Egypt, inaugurating an energetic and brilliant 
reign, { appears to have been the decisive cause of 

* Account of these events in 2 Kings, ch. xxiv. v. 18 and 
following, reproduced in Jeremiah, ch. lii. and ch. xxxix. Compare 
2 Chronicles xxxvi. v. 11 and following. 

t Ezekiel, ch. xvii. v. 17; ch. xxix. v. 3-7, 16; Jeremiah, ch. 
xxxvii. v. 5 ; ch. xliv. v. 30. 

\ Maspero nr». 547 and following. 


an event which might be considered virtually ac- 
complished some time before. Tyre and the other 
cities of Phoenicia entered the league. But appa- 
rently the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, and 
Philistines remained faithful to the King of Baby- 
lon. Ezekiel, on the banks of the Euphrates, soon 
heard of the intended movement. One of his finest 
visions * was that in which he saw the Chaldean 
sword afar off, hesitating which road it should take. 
The sword of Iahveh was ready to be drawn from 
its sheath to strike Israel, " good and evil." But 
once unsheathed it would not return into its scab- 
bard ; the whole world would be smitten. "A 
sword, a sword, it is sharpened, and also furbished : 
it is sharpened that it may make a slaughter ; it is 
furbished that it may be as lightning to give it into 
the hand of the slayer. Cry and howl, son of man ; 
for it is upon my people !...." In fact, 
the seer was commanded to describe a kind of 
map, in which we see two roads starting from 
Babylon, with sign posts, upon which a hand was 
engraved, showing that one led to Jerusalem, the 
other to Pabbath-Ammon. The King of Baby- 
lon stood at the junction of the two roads consulting 
the oracles, to see which he should take. Jeru- 
salem fell to the first lot, the turn of Rabbath- 
Ammon would follow later. 

In 590 the rebellion broke out. Nebuchadnezzar 

* Ezekiel, ch. xxi. 


was then at the climax of his power. He ootid 
concentrate his whole strength upon Syria. The 
conqueror dragged a whole world, peoples, and 
nations after him.* The head-quarters were estab- 
lished at Riblah, near the sources of the Orontes. 
From there the army proceeded to the coast, pro- 
bably through the present Wadi Brissa.f Sidon 
appears to have surrendered without a struggle. 
Strong in its insular position, Tyre resisted. The 
efforts of the assailants were confined to pre- 
venting the Tyrians from communicating with 
the main land, and, above all, from replenishing 
their water supply. Whilst the blockade continued, 
Nebuchadnezzar attacked Judea. Zedekiah shut 
himself up in Jerusalem, abandoning the provincial 
cities to the enemy. The siege of Jerusalem com- 
menced. The city, protected on three sides by 
steep declivities, was pregnable only on the north. 
The besiegers encamped on the plateau now occu- 
pied by the Russian establishments. { Then the 
siege towers were erected, and the lines of circum- 
vallation traced out, according to the slow but in- 
fallible methods of Assyrian warfare. The siege of 
Samaria had lasted three years ; that of Jerusalem 
lasted two. During this time the religious excite- 
ment was extreme. 

* Jeremiah, xxxiv. v. 1. 

\ Inscriptions at Wadi Brissa and Nahr el-Kelb, both at im- 
portant passages in the road. See above, p. 237, note. 
\ See above, p. 89, 00. 


In the sixth century, under the pressure of Nebu- 
chadnezzar, we see the same phenomena that, sixty 
years later, were produced during the attack under 
Titus. It is, in fact, a general rule that in besieged 
capitals — particularly if these capitals have a reli- 
gious and humanitarian character like Jerusalem and 
Paris — factions become exasperated and, almost in- 
evitably, end in excess. Zedekiah and his officers 
wished for war to the death. Jeremiah, assured of the 
fatal termination of the siege, wished them to surren- 
der to the Chaldeans immediately. According to the 
very just expression of the officers,* " he weakened 
the hands of the men of war who remained in the 
city." In reality the old prophet was right. But 
in some cases true wisdom consists in letting fools 
alone. Moreover, the violence of his language ex- 
ceeded all bounds. We cannot reiterate too often, 
that in modern days the true analogy of the pro- 
phets are the journalists of the most immoderate 
style. Jeremiah resembled many personages we have 
known ; he was a compound of a Felix Pyat and an 
implacable Jesuit. He was even miserly of his prayers. 
At the approach of Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah sent 
Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the 
priest, son of Maaseiah, to Jeremiah, saying, " In- 
quire, I pray thee, of Iahveh for us ; peradventure 
Iahveh will deal with us according to all his won- 
drous works, that he (the enemy) may go up from 

# Jeremiah, ch. xxxviii. v. 4. 


us."* Jeremiah's reply was hopeless : the judg- 
ment of Iahveh is irrevocable ; every one will be 
slain ; no mercy will be shown. Another time,t 
the gloomy seer urges those who wish to save their 
lives to give themselves up to the Chaldeans ; those 
who resist will have no choice between the sword, 
famine, or pestilence. In his interviews with Zede- 
kiah,J he offered the king the prospect of life, of favour 
even, or of honourable burial, if he would submit to 
the Chaldeans. Here we already see the dawn of a 
kind of monachal spirit, a stranger to all ideas of 
military honour, and regarding a struggle against 
fatality as pride. Yalour had not much sense in the 
eyes of people who thought that death was the su- 
preme evil, the proof of Iahveh's desertion. We feel 
above all that the prophets — partisans of Nebu- 
chadnezzar — were very glad to see the rebellious 
Jerusalem destroyed, to make way for a pious Jeru- 
salem which would be entirely in their own hands. 

Ezekiel affected more r reserve ; but, as a fact, his 
previsions were equally gloomy. One of his surates 
is supposed to have been written on the very day 
of the investment of Jerusalem. § It consists of a 
series of reproaches and threats. Two parables 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxi. v. 1-7, and eh. xxxvii. v. 3 and following. 
Here there is some confusion of persons. Pashour is an error; 
iTobD ■= iTJD^B\ Compare ch. xxxviii. v. 1. 

f Jeremiah, xxi. v. 8-10 and 13-14. 

J Jeremiah, xxxiv. init. and xxxviii. v. 17 and following. 

§ Ezekiel, ch. xxiv. the whole chapter. 


were shown to him. He first sees a cauldron in 
which the flesh and the bones will seethe together 
(this is the besieged city), without the cauldron 
losing any of the rust formed by stains of blood 
upon it, so that it must be burnt in the fire. Then 
his wife, the delight of his eyes, " died, and he is 
forbidden to mourn for her." In presence of so 
much crime* mourning would be out of place. Soon 
a fugitive from Jerusalem will arrive with the 
tidings that all is over. The prophet may then 
speak again. Until that time he will be dumb. 

One thing, however, consoled Ezekiel for the 
dangers encountered by Jerusalem, this was the 
confidence with which he believed in the destruc- 
tion of the cities of Phoenicia, t This industrial, 
wealthy, mercantile civilisation, appeared to him 
the climax of abomination. When Sidon shall be 
ravaged by pestilence, when her streets shall flow 
with blood and be strewn with the dead, then men 
shall know what it costs to meek at the presump- 
tion of Israel. Then the national vanity of Israel 
shall be no more tormented by " a pricking briar, 
nor a grieving thorn of any that are round about 
them, that did despite unto them." To despise 

* Ezekiel, ch. xxiv. v. 23. 

\ Ch. xxvi., xxvii., xxviii. The dates of the prophecies relating 
to Tyre and Egypt appear to have been partly altered by the 
copyists. They are irreconcilable together. Moreover, Ezekiel 
does not seem to have dated these chapters until after the event. 
There is another erroneous date in ch. xxxiii. v. 21. 


Israel is to despise Iahveh, and this offence can be 
only expiated by blood.* 

In the eyes of Ezekiel, Tyre is also a per- 
sonal enemy of Iahveh. All the nations are 
exhorted to join together against her. She shall 
be totally destroyed. Fishermen shall dry their 
nets where she once stood. Sneers, irony, and 
concentrated rage, combined with the great 
beauty of the images and the originality of the 
expressions, render these chapters masterpieces of 
literature. Still we feel shocked at the coarse 
insults lavished by such powerless rage. And there 
is something ludicrous in the position of a fanatic 
leaping for joy over disasters which have not taken 
place. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar could not take the 
inland city,t he was obliged to content himself with 
ravaging the continental city (Paletyr). 

Ezekiel' s fury against Egypt is equally eloquent 
and equally puerile. { Adopting a proverbial image, § 
suggested by the fragility of the papyrus, he an- 
nounced that Egypt should once more prove a reed, 
which pierced the hand of the man who leant 
upon it. The prosperity of Egypt was considered 

* Ezekiel, ch. xxviii. v. 20-26. 

•f Ezekiel himself infers this, ch. xxix. v. 17 and following. See 
Miss, de Phen., p. 526-527, note. For the authorities quoted by 
Josephus (Contre Apion,i. 21; Ant. X. xi. 1) with the intention of 
confirming the misinterpretaion of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, see vol. 

p. 438, note 1. Besides Josephus only says ê7ro\iopK//. 

J Ezekiel, xxix. v. 1 and following. 

§ 2 Kings, xviii. v. 21; Isaiah, ch. xxxvi. v. 6. 


a sign of pride by the fanatics, in whom it roused 
serious displeasure. 

Egypt should be re-established after forty years ; 
but henceforth she should be the weakest of nations, 
"so that she should no longer inspire any confidence 
in Israel," nor lead it to commit the worst of crimes, 
to trust in anything but Iahveh. 

The siege of Jerusalem advanced in a kind of 
fatalistic way. Famine became imminent. The 
cities of Judah fell one after the other; Lachish 
and Azekah were alone in their successful resist- 
ance ; all the country of Benjamin was completely 
devastated.* The government of Jerusalem dis- 
played both energy and activity ; either to procure 
men capable of bearing arms, or, to please the 
pietists, by observing a law of Deuteronomy, which 
had never been obeyed, the king proclaimed the 
emancipation of all the Hebrew slaves. t This act, 
in which the king joined, was celebrated by a solemn 
covenant ratified in the temple. A calf was cut in 
two, and, according to custom, every one who made 
the promise passed between the two halves of the 
victim. { 

No doubt this was a concession to Jeremiah and 

the partisans of the Thora. And, for one moment, 

it seemed that this act of humanity had brought 

good fortune to Judah. 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxxii. 

f Jeremiah, ch. xxxiv. v. 7 and following. Compare Deuter- 
onomy, chap. xv. v. 14. 

J Compare Genesis, ch. xv. v. 10. 



Up to that time no active assistance had been 
received from Egypt. Hophra had left all his allies 
to be crushed separately and they were almost 
desnairino*. when tidings were brought that an 
Egyptian army had been seen on the frontier.* 
Nebuchadnezzar hastily raised the sieges of Tyre 
and Jerusalem and marched towards the south. 
The general opinion of the prophets was that the 
Egyptians would be defeated and Egypt invaded. 
Ezekial uttered cries of joy. The great day of 
Iahveh, the judgments upon the heathen nations 
would now commence. f To the prophets, Egypt 
essentially represented the idolatrous world. All 
more or less devoted to Nebuchadnezzar, in whom 
they saw the agent of God, they cherished un- 
limited hatred towards Egypt, and regarded its 
annihilation as the commencement of the salvation 
of Israel. { Moreover, Ezekiel justified the devo- 
lution of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar by reasons of 
high theology. Iahveh owed the man who served 
as an instrument in the execution of his decrees 
some recompense for the useless trouble that he 
had taken against Tyre.§ Pillage is the pay of 
the scourge of God. Tyre has not been pillaged, 
so that Iahveh is in arrears with Nebuchadnezzar 
for work done and still unpaid. 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxxvii. v. 5 and following. Cf. ch. xxxiy. v. 7 
and following. 

•f Ezekiel, ch. xxx. v. 3. 
J Ezekiel, ch. xxix. v. 21. 
§ Ezekiel, ch. xxix. v. 17-21. 


The lyrical spirit of Ezekiel never lost an oppor- 
tunity of using a poetic subject that suited his 
taste. He declaimed upon conjectures, wrote odes 
and elegies upon events that had not happened, and 
that never did happen. The destruction of Egypt 
and Ethiopia by Nebuchadnezzar provided him with 
five declamations,* which maybe reckoned amongst 
the most valuable specimens of ancient literature. 
They resemble the Châtiments of Victor Hugo, who 
also felt for Ezekiel' s eccentric genius an admira- 
tion which explains a great many analogies. Egypt 
consoled by Asshur, the descent of the King of 
Egypt to Sheol, and the reception which he meets 
with from the princes of Asshur, of Elam, Meshech- 
Tubal, and Sidon,f the picture of the great armies 
of the epoch resting in Sheol, each hero with his 
sword beneath his head, are poems of marvellous 
effect, which our century admires, perhaps because 
they have precisely our own literary defects. But 
the fact that not one of the predictions contained in 
them was fulfilled, rather spoils them in the eyes of 
a man of good taste. They may be compared to 
poems, written by a romantic poet during the siege 
of Paris, upon the impending extermination of the 
Prussians and the tragic death of the Emperor 

We do not know what took place between the 

* Ch. xxx., xxxi., xxxii. 
t Bead |n*¥ instead of jIB*. 
u 2 


Chaldean and Egyptian armies.* But it is certain 
that Egypt was not invaded, and that its population 
was not transported as Ezekiel had foolishly dreamed. 
Perhaps the two powerful sovereigns made peace 
together at the expense of their weaker allies. 
Nebuchadnezzar promptly returned to the north. 
At Jerusalem, no advantage had been taken of the 
armistice. The little depth of the moral sense in 
the masses was sadly manifested. The former 
owners of the liberated slaves, believing that the 
Chaldean army was retreating, claimed their pro- 
party and again reduced the unfortunate men to 
servitude. This time Jeremiah was justly exaspe- 
rated. Iahveh announced by his mouth that he 
meant to bring back the Chaldean army to destroy 
Jerusalem and the cities of Judah ; and, in fact, 
Nebuchadnezzar resumed the siege of the city and 
continued it without truce or mercy. 

Jeremiah had never believed that the retreat of 
the Chaldeans was permanent, f It was natural 
that he should be suspected of wishing for their 
return. As he possessed land at Anathoth, and 
frequently went there, he was often seen in the 
neighbourhood of Benjamin's Gate, very near to 
the camp which the besiegers had occupied, and 
where they now retook up their position. He was 
thus noticed in the vicinity of the said gate on a 
day, which coincided but too well with the return 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxxvii., particularly v. 7. 
f Ch. xxxvii. 


of the Chaldeans. It was asserted that he intended 
to pass over to the enemy's camp. The captain of 
the ward, Ierijah, son of Shemeliah, arrested him 
and led him to the sarim, or ministers of national 
defence, who caused him to be beaten with rods 
and imprisoned in the house of the sofer Jonathan, 
which had been converted into a prison.* He was 
placed in the secret dungeons, and in a great 
measure deprived of food.f King Zedekiah, who 
secretly believed in him, sent for him privately, 
and asked him if he had received any message from 
Iahveh. Jeremiah referred him to his prophets, 
who had announced that the Chaldeans would not 
return. He complained of the treatment he re- 
ceived in the house of Jonathan, declaring that he 
should die if it continued. The king dared not 
liberate him, because of the animosity of the sarim 
against him. So he gave orders that Jeremiah 
should be transferred to the prison in the royal 
palace, a great open court, where the prisoners, 
their feet made fast in stocks attached to the wall, 
were able to communicate with the public. One 
loaf a day was assigned to him from the bakers' 
bazaar, and this ration was served out to him until 
there was no more bread in the city. 

* We have two accounts of Jeremiah's prison, ch. xx. (cf. ch. 
xxxii. v. 1 and following) and ch. xxxvii. This one is written by 
Jeremiah himself; although a little pregnant with marginal ad- 
ditions, it should be preferred. 

I Ch. xxxvii, v. 15, obscure; this may be through the variationi 
in the margin. 


From his prison * Jeremiah continued to utter 
his sinister predictions, and to incite the people to 
surrender to the Chaldeans and thus save their 
lives. The ministers pointed out to the king the 
discouragement which the prophet's words produced 
in the men of war still left in the city. The dis- 
ciples of Jeremiah, from whom we have received 
these accounts, pretend that the king was no longer 
a real power, that he was bound hand and foot to 
the military party. Zedekiah must have yielded in 
spite of himself. The ministers then seized Jere- 
miah and lowered him by cords into an empty 
cistern with a bottom of mud, in which his body 
was half buried. This summary deed was reported 
to the king, who had gone down to the Gate of 
Benjamin at the time, by an eunuch of the palace, 
Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian. The king gave orders 
that the prophet should be removed from the 
horrible place. Ebed-Melech, aided by the servants 
of the palace, lowered bundles of old rags to Jere- 
miah, who placed them beneath his armpits, and by 
this means he was raised without being wounded. 
He was again confined in the court of the prison 
adjoining the palace. His audacity increased. The 
immediate future always appeared to him under 
the most gloomy colours; but, beyond the despond- 
ing sadness of the present, the pessimist old man 
foresaw a better time, when Israel would have but 

* Ch. xxxviii. v. 1 and following, a contradictory and pregnant 


one heart and one path, when a perfect religion 
would exist. The city was half destroyed by the 
siege machines used by the Chaldeans; the royal 
palace, which contained the prison, was shattered; 
yet Jeremiah repeated his predictions of the future 
prosperity of Judah and Benjamin, then so deeply 
humiliated.* According to one version, he must 
have even promised the eternal duration of the 
Levitical priesthood and of the race of David, the 
latter providing princes of the royal house to Jacob 
for ever ; t but all this passage is suspected of in- 
terpolation, or, at least, the prophet's disciples 
appear to have forced the colours after the event. 
Elsewhere Jeremiah represents that the race of 
David had ended its destinies and had been rejected 
for ever. 

The king once more consulted the man of God, 
but he could obtain but one answer from him : 
"Surrender, and you shall live; without that death 
and fire " — as though honour were not worth sav- 
ing too. Zedekiah feared the deserters, who had 
already gone over to the Chaldeans, and who, upon 
their arrival in the enemies' camp, might do him a 
bad turn. Jeremiah reassured him, and vividly de- 
scribed the reproaches which his wives, if taken 

* Ch. xxxiii. 

f C. xxxiii. v. 14-26, is not found in the Greek. This piece is 
composed of three p^ricopes much resembling each other and 
unique in their styl^. It might be supposed that they have been 
interpolated in order to favour the pretensions of Zerubbabel. 


prisoners, would one day pour upon him for listen- 
ing to the counsels of his attendants.* The un- 
fortunate Zedekiah, convinced by the words of the 
prophet, had apparently but one wish, to obey Iahveh 
and surrender, but, afraid of the party which advo- 
cated war to the death, he be^ed Jeremiah not to 
let any one know of the interview which they had 
had. The ministers went to Jeremiah, but he was 
impenetrable, and maintained that he had sought 
the king, only to petition that he should not be sent 
back to the house of Jonathan, where he should 
surely die. He was then remanded to the prison 
attached to the palace, where he remained until the 
entry of the Chaldeans. 

The end, moreover, drew nearer every hour. A 
breach was made in the north wall. The town 
could no longer defend itself. One night the men 
of war, dragging the king with them, made a great 
sortie by way of the gate between the two walls 
opposite the king's palace, that is by the gate near 
the fish ponds of Shiloh/ They broke through the 
Chaldeans and fled through the valley towards the 
desert. But the Chaldeans pursued them and over- 
took them in the plains of Jericho. The troop dis- 
persed. The king was seized, and his captors led 
him to the Assyrian head-quarters at Riblah. There 
he was tried as a rebel vassal ; his sons were 
murdered in his presence; Nebuchadnezzar him- 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxxviii. v. 22. 


self put out his eyes ; * and he was bound with 
two chains of brass. In this state he was led tc 
Babylon (588), where he remained a prisoner until 
his death, t 

After Zedekiah's futile sortie the Chaldeans 
entered Jerusalem. They waited for instructions 
from Eiblah before acting further. After a delay 
of four weeks, Nebuzaradan, captain of Nebuchad- 
nezzar's guard, reached the city with orders to 
destroy it. He burnt the temple, the royal palace, 
all the strong and well-built houses. The Chaldean 
army were employed to demolish the walls. The 
precious metals in the temple were all carried away. 
There was a great quantity of brass, the columns 
and all that remained of Solomon's great works 
being broken in pieces, placed in sacks, and carried 
to Babylon. { Only the great walls which supported 
the ornamentation were left, and even these were 
disjointed. This destruction explains the archaeo- 
logical poverty of Jerusalem. All the delicate 
work, the ornaments in sculptured wood and metal, 
perished. The great stones rolled to the bottom of 
the valley of Cedron, then much steeper than it 
now is.§ 

* Notice T)¥, confirmed by Botta, Monum. de Nin., pi. 118. See 
Thenius, p. 458. 

f 2 Kings, ch. xxv. v. 7 ; Jeremiah, ch. xxxiv. v. 3 and following; 
ch. xxxix. v. 7 ; ch. lii. v. 11. 

J See above, p. 255. 

§ Joseph., Ant., XV. xi. 5; Warren, Palestine Exploration 
F>md, Excav. pi. 26. 


Nabuzaradan commanded that all whom he found 
in the city should be transported, even those who 
had gone over to the Chaldeans. There were eight 
hundred and thirty-two persons.* He only spared 
a few people of the lowest class to tend the vines 
and cultivate the land.f The Assyrians, like the 
Redskins, had the odious custom of choosing the 
chief men of the vanquished nations and scalp- 
ing them in the king's presence. £ Nebuzaradan 
selected for this purpose Seraiah, the high priest, 
Zephaniah, the second priest, and the three keepers 
of the door from the officials of the temple ; from 
amongst the civil functionaries, one saris, who had 
been set over the men of war, five § of those who 
held positions in the court and saw the king's face, 
the scribe of the sar-saba who enrolled the people, 
and sixty private individuals who were found in 
the city. They were all led to Riblah where the 
king still remained. They were then tortured in his 

* Jeremiah, ch. lii. v. 29. The only way of solving the diffi- 
culties of this passage is, in my opinion, to read DHfc^XT D^n^ in- 
stead of rttlDt? nx>¥j a correction which paleographically is very 
admissible. The two last transportations thus took place with onlj 
a year's interval between them, the first was of the Hierosolymites, 
the second of Judeans. 

f 2 Kings, ch. xxv. v. 12, 22 ; Jeremiah, ch. xl. v. 7 and 
following. For the lestr étions, see below, p. 364. 

J Bas-reliefs in the British Museum. 

§ Or seven, according to the text inserted in Jeremiah. 



The position of Judah after the siege of Jerusalem 
resembled, in many respects, that of Israel after 
the destruction of Samaria. One circumstance, 
however, established a notable difference between 
the two situations, which was greatly to the advan- 
tage of Judah. After the capture of Samaria and 
the transportation of the ten tribes, the Nine vite 
government no longer troubled about the Israelites, 
of whom, no doubt, a great number remained in the 
country. It introduced foreign colonists, who but 
feebly perpetuated the Israelitish religion. It was 
not the same in Judah. Nebuchadnezzar left a 
Chaldean governor in his place, who occupied him- 
self very seriously with the affairs of the country, 
and soon confided them to a native official. More- 
over, the Babylonian government did not introduce 
foreign colonists into Judea ; so that conquered 
Judea passed through the convulsions of a dying 


person, whilst conquered Israel was, in a measure, 
decapitated at one blow. 

New difficulties daily confronted Nabuzaradan. 
The country of Judah was filled with bodies of free 
lances, chiefly composed of men who had sallied out 
with Zedekiah. The pietists, opposed to every- 
thing military, appear to have been very severe 
towards them. Ezekiel hears of their evil deeds, of 
their disobedience to the Thora, "which will pre- 
vent them from ever possessing the land." * In 
fact, these men found great difficulty in procuring 
food ; so they tortured the peasants to make them 
reveal the silos, which contained their hidden pro- 
visions. Nabuzaradan pursued them, and captured 
seven hundred and forty-five persons, who were 
transported in their turn.f 

It was not customary for the Assyrian and Chal- 
dean conquerors to leave garrisons in the vanquished 
countries. The portions of the army which had 
carried on the siege were recalled or forced to leave. 
Nabuzaradan therefore resorted to an expedient 
dictated by the policy of his country. Very dif- 
ferent from the Romans, who rarely delegated their 
authority to natives, the Chaldeans, after the trans- 
portations, liked to form a kind of provisional 
government with the remnant of the power they 
had suppressed. 

Nabuzaradan found the chief he was seeking in 

* Ezekiel, ch. xxxiii. v. 6 and following. 

f Jeremiah, ch. Iii. v. 29. See below, p. 306. 


Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, 
who belonged to one of the first families of the 
kingdom, perhaps to the royal house.* He was a 
moderate man, who had adopted a middle course 
between the patriots and the prophets ; perhaps 
one of those who had followed Jeremiah's advice, 
and gone over to the Chaldeans. Nabuzaradan 
confided to him the daughters of Zedekiah, and 
several important charges. He was also overseer 
to the commissariat, and entrusted with all the 
arrangements for the retreating Chaldean army. 
G-edaliah, or, as he is sometimes called, Godolias, 
established the centre of his authority at Mispah, 
near Jerusalem. He endeavoured to soothe his 
fellow countrymen by gentleness ; but, as a rule, he 
only exasperated them and passed for a traitor 
amongst those who could not forgive him for being 
less foolish than themselves. However, a good 
many Jews who had taken refuge in Moab, Ammon, 
and Edom before the siege, hearing of this restora- 
tion, poor as it was, came back, and, grouping 
themselves round Gedaliah at Mispah, began to 
cultivate the soil. Jeremiah soon joined this feeble 
germ of renewed life, and his connection with it 
added considerably to its strength. 

Two different accounts, even in the school of the 
prophets, were given of the manner in which Jere- 
miah was saved from exile. According to one of 

* It is supposed that Gedaliah is the prince of David up3n 
whom, at times, Jeremiah appeared to rely. 


them,* immediately the city was taken, Nebuchad- 
nezzar remembered the man who had served him so 
well, and he commanded Nabuzaradan and his officers 
to take care of the prophet, who had devoted him- 
self to the support of the Chaldeans. He was 
released from prison and placed in Gedaliah's 
charge, so that he might protect him. According 
to another version, f the old prophet was loaded 
with chains and carried away with the crowd of 
captives. At Ramah, Nabuzaradan recognised him 
and sent him back to Gedaliah, at Mispah, with 
every mark of consideration. We see that the two 
versions agree on this last point. Jeremiah cer- 
tainly aided Gedaliah in his attempt at restoration, 
and exercised at that time a kind of sovereignty 
over the people. The Ethiopian, Ebed-Melech, 
who had saved the prophet's life, also reaped the 
benefit of Iahveh's protection, { and appears to 
have used his influence for the support of the little 
centre of government at Mispah. 

But anarchy was too strong in the land for the 
project, sensible enough in itself, to succeed. The 
group of Mispah, which might have become a 
leaven for future resuscitations, never assumed any 
great proportions. Armed bands still held the 
country districts. The leaders of these troops went 
to Gedaliah at Mispah; Ishmael, the son of Ne- 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxxix. v. 11-14. 

f Jeremiah, ch. xl., xliii. 

J Jeremiah, ch. xxxix. v. 15-18. 


thauiah, Johanan, tlie son of Kareah, and others. 
Gedaliah endeavoured to soothe them, to induce 
them to remain in the land, to work, and to recog- 
nise the supremacy of the King of Babylon. Ishmael 
was far the most dangerous man of the party ; he 
belonged to the royal race and had formed part of 
Zedekiak's court. 

Most of the chiefs listened favourably to Geda- 
liah's conciliating words. But brigandage was the 
order of the day. The Bdomites had seized one 
portion of the territory* of Judah. Baalis, King of 
the Ammonites, had entered into an alliance with 
the assassins, particularly with Ishmael, the son of 
Nathaniah. The captains warned Gedaliah that 
Ishmael intended to murder him, and proposed 
that they should take the initiative and kill Ishmael. 
Gedaliah refused, but he was ill-rewarded for his 
loyalty ; for, shortly afterwards, Ishmael went to 
Mispah with ten men. He killed Gedaliah, all his 
Jewish associates, and the Chaldeans who were 
with him. Gedaliah had only occupied the difficult 
position entrusted to him for about two months. 
With him perished the last hope of Jewish society 
being reconstituted upon its ancient foundations. 
From this moment Ishmael became a merciless 
brigand. He seized everything that Mispah con- 
tained ; the king's daughters, all who had mustered 

* Ezekiel, ch. xxv. v. 12 ; xxxv. v. 5, 10; ch. xxxvi. v. 1 and 
following; Psalm cxxxvii. v. 7; Isaiah, lxiii. v. 18 (correction by 
Graetz) ; 3 Esdras, ch. iv. v. 50. 


round Gedaliah, and all that INTabuzaradan had con- 
fided to him. A band of eighty pilgrims from 
Samaria, Shechem, and Shiloh, who came in mourn- 
ing, with their faces cut and their beards shaved, to 
bring offerings and incense to the ruined temple, 
were murdered in the most cruel way. Ishmael 
was preparing to pass over to the Ammonites with 
his booty, when Johanan, son of Kareah, and the 
other chiefs, surprised him near Gibeon. His pri- 
soners immediately deserted him and joined Johanan. 
Ishmael escaped with eight men and succeeded 
in reaching the land of Ammon. 

Johanan thus found himself, near Gideon, at the 
head of a considerable troop, composed of warriors, 
women, children, and eunuchs. Jeremiah and 
Baruch were with them.* The fugitives passed 
round Jerusalem and encamped at the khan of 
Chimham (Geruth Chimham),near Bethlehem, on the 
road towards Egypt. The murder of Gedaliah had 
spread terror throughout .the country. The people 
dreaded the reprisals which the Chaldeans were 
sure to take for the death of their prefect. More- 
over, Egypt at that moment appeared to be the 
only country where the misery of war was not felt, 
and where food was plentiful. 

The resolution made by Johanan and the other 

* The extreme detail with which these episodes are related 
(Jeremiah, ch. xl. and following) are no doubt due to Jeremiah's 
account of them. 


military leaders was final. However, as a matter 
of form, they consulted Jeremiah, who, after ten 
days, announced that he had received an answer 
from Iahveh. Jeremiah was strongly averse to the 
flight into Egypt. He promised to obtain pardon 
from the Chaldeans for those who remained in the 
country. Johanan and the other chiefs were greatly 
displeased with this oracle. They pretended that 
their annoyance was due to the influence of Baruch, 
and persisted in leading the whole caravan into 
Egypt. They carried Jeremiah and Baruch with 
them, and thus reached Daphnge,* near Pelusium, 
where they apparently settled. 

The evil genius of Jeremiah still haunted him in 
this quiet country, where he might have died in 
peace. Nebuchadnezzar was always the minister 
of God in his eyes, the representative of Iahveh, 
the instrument for the execution of His will. He 
had scarcely entered Egypt, when, as usual, full of 
his predominant idea, the conquest of the world by 
the Chaldeans, he predicted, against all probabili- 
ties, no doubt because he wished for it, the ruin of 
the country which sheltered him, for the benefit of 
the destroyer of his native land.f The magnificent 
temples of Egypt, particularly the Temple of the 
Sun at Heliopolis, filled him with rage. He foresees 

* See the results of the recent English excavations, Egypt 
Exploration Fund, No. iv. 
f Jeremiah, ch. xliii. 



Nebuchadnezzar breaking, burning, massacring, 
transporting, torturing, and he triumphs in the 
spectacle. The darker side of Israelitish fanaticism 
was never seen in a more striking example. And 
besides, this time Jeremiah's prophecies of im- 
pending calamities were quite needless. Nebuchad- 
nezzar never conquered Egypt, and the reign of 
Hophra was an epoch of great prosperity.* 

The small Jewish colony of Daphnse spread over 
the neighbourhood to Migdol and Memphis, in Upper 
Egypt. Idolatrous customs soon resumed their 
sway over these scattered people, deprived of 
priests and shepherds. The worship of Astarte, the 
Queen of Heaven, had its centre in one quarter of 
Memphis^ and exercised a great attraction over all 
the Semites residing in Egypt. This provoked a 
manifesto from Jeremiah,}: written with more vio- 
lence than any of his former ones. Those who 
worshipped the Queen of Heaven, or allowed their 
wives to do so, are represented as the scourge of 
their co-religionists. Through their sin, the re- 
fugees in Egypt will meet with the same fate as 
the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 

The colony of Daphnse does not appear to have 

* Herodotus, ii. 161; Maspero. p. 554 and following. Josephus, 
Ant., X. xi., only draws inferences from Jeremiah. 

■f Herodotus, ii. 112 ; Brugsch, in the Zeitschrift jùr œgypt. 
Sprache, June 1863, p. 9; information given by M. Maspero. 

J Jeremiah, ch. xliv. 


been very docile to the prophet. Pure Iahveism 
had few adherents amongst the emigrants whom 
chance had thrown together ; for they imperti- 
nently replied that they would fulfil their vows to 
the Queen of Heaven, as they were accustomed to 
do, they, their fathers, their kings, and their 
leaders in the cities of Judah and the streets of 
Jerusalem, in the happy days when they were 
prosperous ; for since they had ceased to offer 
incense and libations to the Queen of Heaven, they 
lacked everything. It was not easy to escape logi- 
cally from this syllogistic circle. Iahveism was 
taken in its own arguments. Jeremiah gave the 
incredulous a sign by which they would be con- 
vinced ; that Hophra should be delivered up to his 
enemies, as Zedekiah had been delivered up to 
Nebuchadnezzar.* He dared not repeat his former 
prediction, that Hophra should be delivered up to 
Nebuchadnezzar, for Nebuchadnezzar had passed 
out of sight. He contented himself with a vague 
formula, which, considering the revolutions con- 
tinually occurring at that time, could not fail to be 
realised sooner or later.f 

Judaism was thus totally destroyed in Palestine; 
Jerusalem was a heap of ruins; the country districts 
had retained the majority of their inhabitants ; but 

* Jeremiah, ch. xliv. v. 30. 

f The tragic death of Hophra, in 569, through the revolt of 
Amasis, leads one to helieve in a prophetia post eventum, proceeding 
from Jeremiah's disciples. 

x 2 


these villages, disturbed by the reforms of Josiah, 
had no organised worship. lahveism was entirely 
transplanted ; it now centred in Mesopotamia and 
Chaldea. The Israelitish conscience was suppressed 
in Judea ; but, on the other hand, it increased with 
great vitality in Babylon, 






The frightful spectacle which the traveller in 
Africa frequently met upon his road, in the days of 
the slave trade, the lines of unfortunate men 
chained together, driven along by the whip of 
the slave merchant, was continually witnessed by 
the Asiatic world at the time when Nineveh and 
Babylon were at the climax of their power. The 
Assyrian bas-reliefs, * show us, with startling 
realism, the long files of captives, their arms bound 
behind their backs, in a position which in itself 
must have caused frightful torture, walking bowed 
and humiliated beneath the whip, for the greater 
glory of their conqueror. It was in this posture 

* Layard, Monum. of Nineveh, second series, pi. xviii. and 
following unto L. 


that the leading men of Judah accomplished the 
long and cruel journey from Jerusalem to Riblah 
(more than eighty leagues). No doubt the exiled 
crowd was led first to Riblah, and from there con- 
ducted across the desert of Palmyra to the con- 
fluent of the Euphrates and the Chebar.* It was 
then, that the natives as they passed must have 
often asked, " Where is their God ? " and the 
pious Israelite murmured in his heart, " My God, 
my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?" 

If we except the men of war, who were nearly all 
killed or fugitives in Egypt, and the men of the 
lowest classes, who had remained in Judea, the 
Jewish nation (we mean all that really makes a 
nation, i.e.> the head) thus found itself transported, 
almost in its entirety, to the banks of the Euphrates 
towards the year 585 b.c. The essential organ of 
the nation was with them, I mean the ancient 
Scriptures, which already formed a very consider- 
able volume. The exiles must have had some 
luggage carried upon asses or camels. The fate of 
humanity depended for some days upon the sure- 
footedness of the animal which carried the sacred 
book of the future. Yet was not some volume of 
the Scriptures left in Judea, in the hands of the 
poor people whom the conqueror considered too 
insignificant for him to trouble about them ? No 

* The return journey is mentioned in Isaiah, ch. xxxv. (written 
at the end of the exile), and appears to have been made across the 
desert. The second Isaiah alludes to it in the same manner. 


one can say.* But it is certain, that the literary- 
tradition was the work of the families carried in f o 
the East. 

Most of the captives were confined in Babylon; 
others were scattered throughout the cities and 
villages built on the canalsf of Lower Chaldea. 
Babylon was a province rather than a city. % 
Numerous centres of population separated from 
each other by orchards, meadows, and willows § 
were sown, as it were, over an enormous space en- 
closed by walls. The Constantinopolitan agglome- 
ration of our own time must recall this arrange- 
ment. The most varied races brought together by 
captivity met each other in this enclosure. || The 
intellectual and moral contact between them was 
slight ; conquest alone had united them, and their 
sole desire was to part again. The bridge which 
joined the two parts of the city was raised every 
evening, to prevent the different populations from 
throwing themselves upon each other and pillag- 
ing, ^f Israel, at least, never borrowed anything 
from its conquerors. On the contrary, burying 

* See below, p. 364. 

t ^OD miru. Psalm, cxxxvii. v. 1. 

J At the present time the enclosure of Babylon contains nearly 
twenty-five thousand inhabitants. Hillah is the most important of 
the groups of houses scattered over it. 

§ Psalms cxxxvii. v. 2. 

J Hist, des langues semit.> I. ii. 3 ; Quatremère, Mem. ge'ogr, sur 
la Babylonie, p. 21. 

^[ Herodotus, i. p. 186. Compare the chains of Stamboul, 


itself with a sort of frenzy in its own ideas, it 
would not listen to anything that had no reference 
to its past, nor dream of any thing but its future.* 

Babylon, at the time when the Jews were trans- 
ported there, was reviving brilliantly under Nebu- 
chadnezzar after a long period of degradation. The 
buildings and restorations completed by this king 
have placed him amongst the greatest sovereign 
builders that ever existed, t He restored the tower 
of Bel to its original state.! His last years, 
especially, appear to have been spent in carrying 
out the gigantic works required for the preservation 
of water, in a country which resembles Egypt in 
many respects. § There is no proof that the captive 
Jews were employed in this way. Their occupa- 
tions appear to have been more agricultural. They 
are found in the villages of Tell-Melah, Tel-Harsha, 
and Cheroub-Addan, apparently in the vicinity of 
Babylon. || The commerce and industry of Babylon 
were immense. They roused great anger in the 
prophets ; \ but it is verf possible that the Jewish 

* The hypothesis that the Jews borrowed considerably from the 
East, during the captivity, is founded upon a thoroughly erroneous 
conception of the Jews' state of mind, and of their international 
relations during this time. 

"f Nearly all Nebuchadnezzar's inscriptions relate to these 

% Oppert, Miss, de Mésopotamie, i. p. 202 and following. 
Schrader, p. 122. 

§ Maspero, pp. 557-558. 

|j Ezra, ch. ii. v. 59. 

% Eznkiel, ch xvii. v. 4. 


laity was less hostile to them and even took an 
active part in them. Association with the lower 
classes of the population, who spoke Aramean, 
caused the emigrants to adopt this language, which 
at that epoch was generally prevalent in the basin 
of the Euphrates and the Tigris. Every one learnt 
it, but no one on that account ceased using his 
national idiom. The soferim continued to write 
in the old Hebrew dialect. But even those who 
habitually spoke and wrote in Hebrew lapsed into 
numerous aramaïsms from this time. Proper 
names, especially, became impregnated with Ara- 
mean roots.* 

From a material point of view, the situation of 
the exiled Jews was not that of slaves ; but rather of 
exiles or prisoners, free in all respects, except in 
the choice of their dwelling. The laws of the Chal- 
dean empire, with regard to individuals, differed 
little from those of the Ottoman empire. The posi- 
tion of the Jews on the Euphrates must have re- 
sembled that of the Syrian métualis of our own time. 
The métualis are descended from Persians or Kurdes, 
who, through various adventures, were carried into 
Syria during the Crusades. They have lost their own 
language (the language in the East always resists 
less than the religion) ; but they cling obstinately 
to their Persian sympathies and Schiite worship, 
showing towards them an attachment which is quite 
invincible. Their condition is not servile but subor- 

* ^orre, etc. 


dinate. The land which they occupy forms part of 
the Miri; it has been conceded to them upon terms 
that, in certain cases, ultimately constitute a quasi- 

We must consider the position of the Hebrews in 
Babylon as very similar to the above, except that, 
the Chaldean empire being free from all religious 
fanaticism, the situation of the Hebrews must have 
been less painful than that of the métualis, who are 
always exposed to affronts from the Sunnites. A 
great many Jews adopted professions or positions 
which soon placed them in comfort.* Most of them 
received grants of land, which enabled them to build 
houses and plant gardens. Their communications 
with each other were perfectly free, like those of 
the various communities of the rayahs in the 
Ottoman empire. t A large majority were well 
content to find themselves sheltered from the 
miseries of war ; but the pietists clung to Zion 
with intense sentimental longing, and thought of 
nothing but their return. . They remained poor, and 
resented the conduct of those who acquired riches, 
too frequently by pandering to the vices or luxury 
of the conquerors. These became a species of de- 
serter in their eyes, who would be punished by the 
perfect David when he should one day govern in 
the name of Iahveh.J 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxix. v. 5 and following, and the whole chapter, 
t Jeremiah, ch. xxix; Ezekiel, ch. xiv. v. 1; chap, xxxiii. v. 31 
J Ezekiel. ch. xxxiv. v. 20 and following. 


It would be an error to suppose that misfortune 
had established equality and peace amongst the 
exiles. The wealthy possessed slaves and treated 
them with much severity.* The sacerdotal and 
patrician families had retained all their former 
haughtiness ; t they had some jurisdiction over the 
lower classes, and annoyed them in the name of the 
Chaldeans. $ The equipment for the return journey 
was that of a rich caravan, from which neither male 
nor female singers were lacking. § Now all this 
wealth had been acquired in Babylon, and the little 
eagerness shown by the majority of the laity for 
their return surely arose from that prosperity, which 
must have been enjoyed from the earliest years of 
their exile. On the other hand, a great many of 
the poor were obliged to sell themselves as slaves 
in order to live. The pious considered it a duty to 
subscribe together for their redemption. || 

There was scarcely any association between the 
Israelites and the upper classes of Babylon. A great 
many Jews became servants in the households of 
the Chaldean nobility, and adopted Chaldean names, 
without troubling themselves about the paganism 
implied by these names. \ It did not entail any 

* Ezra, ch. ii. ; Ezekiel, ch. xxxiv. 

\ Isaiah, ch. lix. 

J The roim of Ezekiel, ch. xxxiv. 

§ Ezra, ch. i., ch. ii. v. 65 

|| Neheraiah, ch. v. v. 8. 

U" Shesh-bazzar; Sliarezer and Kegem-Melech, Zechariah, ch. 
vii. v. 1 and following. See Daniel, ch. i. v. 7, taking this work 
as a legend written four hundred years later. 


apostasy, and was not more shocking than when 
the Jews of the Roman epoch called themselves 
Appollonius or Hermes. So far as we can picture 
to ourselves a period far distant from us and still 
little known, we see two upper classes at Babylon, 
both equally unsuited to exercise any durable in- 
fluence over Israel : first a warrior class, harsh and 
cruel, a sort of Redskins, haughty and malicious; 
then a learned caste, already rationalist, naturalist, 
atheist, from which Greece was then learning her 
first lessons. These two aristocracies were the 
direct negation of the God of Israel. Eight or nine 
centuries earlier, Israel, in all the flexibility of a 
young tribe, might have listened with avidity to the 
grand accounts of the old mythology of Ur-Casdim; * 
but a nation fanaticised by men like Jeremiah and 
Ezekiel was unable to comprehend a civilisation, 
which had learned through philosophy to deny both 
the gods and Providence. As to military, conquer- 
ing Assyria, with almost no religion, it could inspire 
the finely-developed moral sense of the true Hebrews 
with horror only. To them Babylon was evil, nothing 
more.f Our opinion is that the pious Jews who 
were captive in Babylon wilfully closed their eyes 
to all that surrounded them. Their attitude was 
that of Bretons transplanted to Paris, who will not 
look at anything and depreciate all that passes 

* See vol. i. p. 54 and following, 
f Zccbariali, ch. v. v. 5-11. 


under their eyes, maintaining that the quiet life of 
their own village, full of affection and cordiality, is 
worth much more. And, therefore, the effect of 
this exile, which did not last more than fifty years, 
was to strengthen the spirit of Israel in its own 
ideas, to exaggerate its qualities and defects, and 
to confine it with more ardour than ever to its idea 
of a perfect law, which, if perfectly observed, would 
secure the happiness of the whole community. 

The Lévites, so numerous since Josiah, whose 
fate had so constantly preoccupied both the author 
of Deuteronomy and Jeremiah, were in a state of 
mendicity amongst the emigrants.* They made 
common cause with the anavim, and considerably 
increased the crowd of God's poor, who expected 
their food and their safety to be provided by the 
hand of Iahveh. The priests must also have suffered 
great distress ; the reform of Josiah having rendered 
all worship illegal if performed outside the temple 
of Jerusalem, no sacrifices could be offered. The 
priests and Lévites, who lived from the sacrifices, 
were without any resources. It was probably 
amongst this class, the spirit of which is so well 
represented by Bzekiel, that the ideas of return 
and restoration were most strongly cherished. 

This accounts for the difference between the proce- 
dure of the exiles of Samaria and of those transported 
from Jerusalem, one hundred and thirty-three years 

* See Ezra, ch. ii. v. 40 and following, 70, and the parallel lists. 


later. The Iahveism of the captives from Samaria 
was not yet formed. It speedily dissolved ; the ten 
tribes disappeared; their name retained merely a 
hieratic value. Judah, on the contrary, was like a 
metal bar during the captivity. This was owing to 
the influence of Jeremiah, Josiah, and Deuteronomy. 
The law existed; it was the great solder which held 
together the pieces of the little world which the 
conquest had broken up. As the worship of Iahveh 
could no longer be celebrated except at Jerusalem, 
it was necessary to rebuild Jerusalem at any price. 
Iahveh could be worshipped in any place by the 
ten tribes, so that as Samaria never became a holy 
city, there was no reason to rebuild it. 

It does not appear that the captive Judaites 
came in contact with any considerable number of 
the Israelitish exiles.* No doubt the latter h^d 
already half lost their ritual or offered sacrifices to 
Iahveh, which in the eyes of the Judaites, were 
merely sacrileges. When the prophets speak to us 
of their hopes of seeing the restoration of Jerusalem 
as the capital of all the branches of the family of 
Israel, it is only in a geographical sense. Already, 
under Josiah, this hope had been realised to a 
certain extent by the species of suzerainty, which 

* Jeremiah, ch. 1. v. 4 and following is only a prophetic reser- 
vation often repeated. Passages like Ezekiel, ch. xxxvii. v. 15 and 
following, seem, however, to infer that there were some of the 
Israelites transported by Shalmaneser in Babylon, who still cele- 
brated the worship of Iahveh in their own way. 


Jerusalem had acquired over the northern pro- 
vinces. The resumption of this ascendency was 
always an integral part of the Jewish programme ; 
it was accomplished under the Asmonseans. 

It was therefore the captivity of Babylon which 
definitely converted Israe] into a holy people. The 
court and the military classes, always opposed to 
the prophets, no longer existed. The Lévites, who 
were numerous amongst the exiles, retained their 
attachment to religious things. The lukewarm and 
indifferent soon resigned themselves to their fate 
and settled in the East, where lucrative employ- 
ments were easily obtained. The pietists formed a 
group and fanned each other's zeal by frequent 
association. Disciples, as a rule, of Jeremiah, they 
persistently asserted the future prosperity of Israel 
and the righteous providence of Iahveh. This was 
the decisive moment. The crisis which does not 
destroy a budding creed strengthens it. Henceforth 
Judaism resembled a sheaf girdled with iron. From 
the first years of the captivity, the group of saints 
scattered over the banks of the Euphrates had re- 
constituted a burning centre of life, as intense as 
that which consumed the Jewish blood in the most 
feverish days of Jerusalem. 

And, in fact, one of the most extraordinary points 
in the moral attitude of the Jewish people at this 
period of their history is their inflexibility, their 
persistence in believing and hoping, in spite of 
appearances. It would be an exaggeration if we 


were to attribute these sentiments to the whole 
nation. The enthusiasts were always in a small 
minorit y ; but they alone wrote ; they alone be- 
queathed their dominant thought to future genera- 
tions. Their slackness was extreme on some points. 
The Chaldean art of divination attracted them 
powerfully, and they believed that they could 
devote themselves to it without disloyalty to 
Iahveh ! * The rules about clean and unclean things 
were very minute, and were often broken. t Thou- 
sands of peaceful individuals resigned themselves 
to the necessities of the time, and contented them- 
selves with a moderate Iahveism which admitted a 
large dose of idolatry ! J They are not even remem- 
bered, but the protestation of the fanatics has come 
down to us clear and resonant as the sound of a 
trumpet. In all these ardent pages, there is not one 
expression of despair, not one trace of discourage- 
ment^ Hence the strange fact, that the Babylonian 
captivity scarcely constitutes an era in the religious 
and literary history of Israel. The movement com- 
menced under Josiah was continued after the ruin 
of Jerusalem as though nothing had happened. 
Only its progress was much accelerated. The luke- 
warm no longer counted; there were no moderate men 

* Isaiah, ch. lxv. init. 
■f Isaiah, ch. lxv. v. 4; ch. lxvi. v. 17. 

| Second Isaiah, especially ch. lxiv. v. 4, and the whole of ch. lxv. 
§ The Lamentations would be an exception, but that it should be 
regarded as a work of artificial rhetoric of much later date. 


left. The idealist without a country always becomes 
a dangerous person ; the world is right to beware of 

Henceforth the anavim were alone, and without 
counterpoise in Israel. Nebuchadnezzar had really 
worked for them, as Titus worked for the Christians. 
Jeremiah found that he was right. His disciples 
triumphed; their real enemies, the worldly and 
military circles of Jerusalem, those who dreamed 
of a secular policy and of free association with 
foreigners, had disappeared. One of the conflicting 
elements had strangled the other. The anavim, 
hitherto a persecuted minority, were henceforth the 
whole of Israel. Amongst peoples devoted to an idea, 
the law, as we have said twenty times, is made by 
the minority. The French Revolution was due to the 
persistency of a small number of demoniacs, who 
succeeded in imposing the belief that they led the 
nation. We hear only of the few; the flock of sheep 
merely serve to make up the number. History 
interests itself in the ambitious and passionate only. 

Everything succeeds with those who have to 
fulfil a divine mission. The men who were most 
gloomy during the siege, became admirable as 
soon as they had no more politics to manage. 
Through successive eliminations, Israel became a 
group of the righteous, who never troubled them- 
selves about war or politics, but accepted the suze- 
rainty of Babylon, secretly cherishing the consoling 
thought that Babylon would soon be destroyed in its 

yol. m. t 


turn. The profane classes were mortally stricken, 
but on the other hand, the prophetic school had 
more vitality than ever. Jeremiah dragged out the 
last years of his life in obscurity in Egypt. * But 
Baruch, his disciple, and all his school, carried 
on the old spirit, which dated from Josiah. The 
national sorrows inspired them with canticles of 
purer harmony than ever. 

* It is supposed that the second Isaiah, ch. liii., contains some 
allusions to the sad end of Jeremiah and to the wrongs which ho 
endured. See below, p. 397. 




Ezektel was the great consolation of the exiles in 
Babylon. During more than twenty years, this 
extraordinary man was the centre of the fiery 
preaching which saved the conscience of Israel 
from a storm, in which any other national conscience 
would have perished. As long as Jerusalem existed, 
he was in correspondence with the brethren in 
Judea ; when Jerusalem and the temple disap- 
peared, he was the obstinate champion of Iahveism, 
as the prophets understood it. Without any official 
title, and in spite of the opposition of rival pro- 
phets,* he acquired extraordinary authority, and 
traced the path of the future. We may conclude 
that at this period of his life Ezekiel was dwelling 
in Babylon. His house served as a meeting place 
for the elders and pious men; those even who 
merely believed were admitted; for the prophet 

* Ezekiel, ch. xiii. 


complains, that sometimes, certain of the audience 
listened to him with more curiosity than true piety 
and wish to reform.* It was & kind of synagogue, 
and, we m c iy say, the first synagogue that ever 
existed. Since the destruction of the temple, some 
new institution had become necessary; a place 
where the Jews could assemble on certain days to 
strengthen each other in the national spirit, and to 
provide against foreign influences. The place which 
served for these pious meetings was first the house 
of some venerated chief of a respected family, just 
as later on the first churches were all attached to 
some household, t No doubt the Sabbath was soon 
chosen for these assemblies. The cycle of Jewish 
life, without temple or priests, was already com- 
mencing to define itself. The Jewish quarter in 
each city would contain, not a chapel to Iahveh, 
but an assembly room, the centre of a very fruitful 

Ezekiel had been speedily informed of the fall of 
Jerusalem by a fugitive .% It is so difficult to dis- 
tinguish fiction from fact in the curious pages which 
bear the name of this writer, that we cannot tell 
whether the assertion that about this time he lost 
his wife, and received a command from Iahveh 

* Ezekiel, ch. xxxiii. v. 30 and following. 

•f Romans, ch. xvi. v. 5; 1 Corinthians, ch. xvi. v. 19. 

\ Ezekiel, ch. xxxiii. v. 21 and following. Compare ch. xxiv. 
v. 26-27. Circesium is not far from Palmyra. News could trave] 
from Jerusalem to Palmyra in very few days. 


not to wear mourning for her, should be taken 
literally.* Anyway, Ezekiel was kept well in- 
formed about the incidents of the war by partisans 
who watched the defence of the city, and were much 
averse to it.t In fact, as we have seen, the cha- 
racter of these events was little fitted to please the 
pietists. Moreover, the arrival of the new captives 
tended to heighten the tone adopted by Ezekiel. J 
The prophet felt that this increase of his religious 
family also added to his responsibility. He was in 
charge of souls. § He is responsible for those who 
perish through lack of warning. The idea of an 
ecclesiastical ministry is almost as much developed 
in Ezekiel as in Saint Paul or Clement of Rome. 

Ezekiel's confidence in all the promises given to 
the Israelites never falters. Iahveh is bound by 
his word, he has entered into an engagement. It 
is not the merits of Israel that have influenced his 
actions, but the intention of saving his honour. 
Jerusalem and the cities of Judah will be rebuilt ; 
the two halves of the chosen race will be reunited ; 
the unity of Israel will be completed around Judah. 
Iahveh will gather together all the members of his 

* Ezekiel, ch. xxiv. v. 15 and following. See above, p. 287. 
Acocrding to some commentators Ezekiel intended in this way to 
reproach the first captives with their indifference to the miseries, 
endured by their fellow-countrymen in Judea. 

| Ezekiel, ch. xxxiii. v. 21 and following. 

\ Ezekiel, ch. xxxiii to xxxix. 

§ Ezekiel, ch. xxxiii. Ingenious discussions of moral theobgy. 


people from the countries in which they may be 
dispersed. Then the Jewish life will be practised 
in its integrity ; no more idolatry ; the whole Thora 
will be observed ; * the world will be happy. 

This fixed idea assumes the most varied forms in 
the visions of Ezekiel. Now it is a plain covered 
with dry bones, over which passes the breath of 
life, so that the bones clothe themselves with flesh, 
nerves, and skin ; t presently it is a vision of the 
ideal temple of the future % which unfolds itself 
before him ; sometimes the revolutions of the world 
appear to him subordinate to the destinies of his 
people. The prophecy of the shepherds of Israel § 
is already quite Christian — full of a pastoral and 
unctuous spirit. This is one of the chapters of 
Ezekiel which has passed almost intact into the 
Grospel, and thence into Christian instruction. Israel 
has had bad shepherds, who have thought only of 
the profits to be made out of the flock. The flocks 
therefore dispersed. Their former leaders were 
justly deprived of their charge. Iahveh declares 
that henceforth he will be the sole shepherd of 
Israel. He will gather the flock together after its 
dispersion, and will lead it back to its native moun- 
tains. He will protect the sheep against the rams 
and he-goats. He will prevent the latter from 

* Ezekiel, ch. xxxvii., 2nd part, 
j" Ezekiel, ch. xxxvii., 1st part. 
\ See below, p. 336 and following. 
§ Ezekiel, ch. xxxiv. 


treading down the pasture and fouling the water 
that the sheep are to drink. More than that. He 
will judge between the sheep themselves, and will 
defend the lean sheep against the fat ones. Woe 
to those who have fattened themselves amidst such 
universal distress ! Moreover, the fat sheep thrust 
the lean ones aside with their horns. This must 
not be allowed. " I will set up one shepherd over 
them, and he shall feed them, even my servant 
David.* And I, Iahveh, will be their God. And 
my servant David prince among them. I, Iahveh, 
have spoken it." 

The land of Israel shall become a terrestrial para- 
dise ; savage beasts shall disappear ; a shower of 
blessings shall descend upon the mountains. No 
more masters, no more violence, no more conquer- 
ing nations. How different from the fate of the 
neighbours of Israel, who have shown bitterness 
towards it ! Their mountains shall become a desert ; 
their valleys shall be filled with the dead ; their 
cities shall become a heap of ruins. They have 
mocked at the calamities of Israel. 

At that time the majority of the smaller peoples 
of Syria found the same advantage from possessing 
less national pride than Israel, and from bending 
under the storm, that the same policy produced 
later on, during the Roman epoch. A return to 
the system of petty states became more and more 

* Ezekiel, ch. xxxiv. v. 23. 


impossible. A paroxysm of wild jealousy seized 
the violent partisans of the patriarchal state when 
they saw Amnion, Edom, Moab, the Philistines, 
Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt still flourishing after the 
disasters which had overwhelmed Judah. They 
revenged themselves by thundering curses against 
the nations that seemed by their prosperity to 
falsify the promises of Iahveh.* Ammon had 
clapped its hands over the ruin of Jerusalem; it 
should be delivered up for a spoil to the Arabs. 
Moab should meet with the same fate. Edom had 
wished to invade the territory of Judah ; it should 
be punished after the restoration of Israel. As to 
the Philistines, they should be destroyed for ever. 

These great proofs of the justice of Iahveh would 
take place on a day of darkness, t which Ezekiel, 
like all the prophets,^ believed to be near at hand.§ 
This " day of nations " would be preceded by ter- 
rible signs, particularly by a sort of general over- 
throw of all the heathen world, come forth to re- 
sist theocracy. The mythical chief of this rising in 
arms would be Grog, the prince of the land of 
Meshech-Tubal, || who would be at the head of all 
the barbarism of the north, and would lead it 

* Ezekiel, ch. xxv. and chap, xxxv.-xxxvi. 

f Ezekiel, ch. xxx. v. 3. 

% See vol. ii. p. 370. 

§ Ezekiel, ch. xxxviii. v. 17; ch. xxxix. v. 8. 

| Ezekiel, ch. xxxviii. and xxxix. Eos is not a country. Eze- 
kiel's geography does not extend beyond the limits of the tenth 
chapter of Genesis. 


against restored Israel, to be finally exterminated 
in its turn. Israel would be enriched with its 
spoil and poisoned by its dead.* The name of 
Grog is only an abridgment of the old geographical 
name of Magog,f probably designating the Caucasus. 
It seems that this is an allusion to the Scythians, 
who made a great expedition into Syria in the time 
of Josiah.J We shall never completely decipher 
the mystery of this passage, which the author him- 
self wished to render enigmatic by giving a sym- 
bolical signification to real facts, and by predicting 
for the future events that had already taken place. 

The school of Jeremiah contributed as much to 
the consolation of the exiles as the indefatigable 
Ezekiel. We know nothing of the ulterior destinies 
of the group of Jews that had taken refuge in 
Egypt. Jeremiah died protesting against their 
lukewarmness and their tendency to idolatry. It is 
probable that Baruch went to Babylon, where the 
current of ideas was more in harmony with his 
own.§ The remainder of the Jewish colonies, scat- 
tered at DaphnaB, Memphis, and Heliopolis, was 

* Compare Herodotus, i. 105. 

| Ezekiel, ch. xxxviii. v. 1. JTJD fHK is a marginal addition 
which has passed into the text. If translated according to the 
usual way, it should be fH&O- 

\ See above, pp. 211, 212. 

§ Baruch appears to have assisted in the arrangement of the 
book of Jeremiah, which is inseparable from the last chapters of 
the books of Kings. Now these arrangements appear to have been 
made in Babylon. See below, p. 363. 


soon corrupted, abandoned itself to Semitico-Egyp- 
tian worship, and was almost lost to Israel. The 
first colonies had no Thora. The colony of Alex- 
andria, fertile in a different way, was much more 
modern in its origin, and dates from a period when 
no Israeli tish group ever travelled without the 

A fine poem, found amongst the works of Jere- 
miah,* is a complete epitome of Jewish hopes at this 
solemn hour. He who scattered Israel will gather 
it together again. Sion and Samaria will be re- 
conciled ; Bphraim will come and worship at Jeru- 
salem. Are not Benjamin and Joseph sons of the 
2ame mother, Rachel ? At the present time, lamen- 
tations are heard issuing from the tomb of Rachel 
at Ramah, the voice of a mother weeping for her 
children, refusing to be comforted because they are 
not. How happy she will be when Iahveh shall 
say unto her, "Thy children shall come again to 
their own border." The way is already being pre- 
pared, the way-marks and sign-posts are being set 
up. Jacob, thus restored in its unity, shall have a 
national prince. The prophet does not say that 
he will be descended from David. Unclouded joy ! 
The holy ritual shall be re-established at Sion with 
unequalled splendour ; the priests shall be satiated 

* Ch. xxx. and xxxi. It is very doubtful if this poem were 
really written by Jeremiah himself. It bears a great resemblance 
to the work of the second Isaiah. 


with fatness ; the people shall be satisfied with 
good things. 

But one thought had weighed heavily upon the 
pious, especially of Jeremiah's school ; that, as 
Iahveh visited the sins of the fathers upon succes- 
sive generations, they would always, however right- 
eous they might personally be, see the horrors 
of Hinnom, the crimes of Manasseh rising up be- 
fore them. The Jeremist, agreeing with Ezekiel 
on this point, announces that after the restoration 
sin would be personal only ; a man would no longer 
expiate the sins of his ancestors, as he then did. 
Forgiveness would be absolute. All men would 
know the law intuitively, not by instruction. God 
himself would write it in their hearts. It would 
be a new covenant, superior to the one concluded 
upon the departure from Egypt, which had been 
broken through the crimes of the ancient people. 

Thus the formula of the future had been com- 
pletely defined in all the families of Israel. The 
holy men dispersed over the banks of the Euphrates 
mutually participated in the obstinate dream which 
henceforth inspired all their actions and all their 
writings. Jerusalem should be re-established, the 
worship of Iahveh restored. An ideal David would 
cause justice to reign in Israel. The prediction of 
the ancient seers would be accomplished ; the day 
of Iahveh would appear, and would prove a fright- 
ful reality for the heathen. Israel, on the contrary, 


restored to a pastoral and agricultural life, would 
enjoy perfect happiness upon the mountains, re- 
joicing once more in their ancient fertility. Mes- 
sianism thus attained a new stage of definition and 
precision with every fresh vision. 




Tfe incredible faith which the Jewish people had 
in itself, is most visible in the fertility of its imagi- 
nation, when dwelling upon its future resurrection 
at the very moment that the things of this world 
appeared most adverse to it. In these years 
Ezekiel's passionate soul attained a height in 
which human nature has rarely maintained itself. 
The reconstruction of Jerusalem was so little 
doubted by this imperturbable believer that all his 
thoughts were occupied by plans, often eccentric, 
for arranging the future society in harmony with 
the spirit of the prophets, whose work he ardently 

Josiah's reform had become so absolutely the 
law of Iahveism, that the idea of celebrating the 
worship of Iahveh outside Jerusalem appeared 
impossible. Religion, as Jeremiah understood it, 
was not only a purely civic ritual, but a ritual 
which could only be celebrated in one particular 


city. This city once destroyed, it must be rebuilt at 
any price, under penalty of seeing the truth perish. 
If Jewish ideas took another turn after the siege 
by Titus, it was because the character of the 
Roman power was far more immutable than the 
Assyrian. Moreover, the idealist conception had 
made so much progress in Israel, thanks in a great 
measure to Christianity, that Jerusalem had become 
less necessary to Iahveism, and the doctors of 
Iabne could conceive perfect observance of the law 
without sacerdoce or altar. 

The sacerdotal and ritualistic organization were 
the principal subject of the dreams of the pietists. 
They certainly intended to revert to the past in all 
its essentials, but they felt that a great many ma- 
terial changes were necessary, and they did not 
scruple to introduce them. During his captivity 
Ezekiel employed his leisure in musing upon plans, 
which he perpetually rearranged. Facing the 
problem which the reforms of Josiah had created 
without solving, the hierarchy of the sacerdotal 
body, he endeavoured to mentally portray the city 
of priests which was issuing from the unconscious 
effort of Israel. 

These ideas, which appear in Ezekiel under many 
varied forms, and with changes that in some 
measure show us the progress of his thoughts, are 
summed up in a series of visions dated 575 b.c.* 
The chapters in question form a short ideal descrip- 

* Ezekiel, ch. xl.-xlviii. 


tion of the new organization planned by the one 
whom we are authorised to consider the second 
founder of Judaism after Jeremiah. There are no 
pages in the writings of the past which reveal a 
stranger state of mind. They resemble a dream 
in which the laws of reality have ceased to exist, 
and even figures are flexible. The geography is 
entirely fanciful ; the topography full of contradic- 
tions. They form an ideal code, which, assuredly, 
the Seer himself would not willingly have seen 
applied without a great many modifications. The 
numbers especially seem almost written down by 
chance, and there is some naivete in the effort to 
correct them ; the author might as well have left 
them unwritten. Those who pretend to base any 
calculations or drawings upon these eccentric 
visions might as well try to draw out the plan of 
the heavenly Jerusalem of the Apocalypse. They 
would have to allow room in their drawings for 
the river issuing from the temple, increasing with 
every yard, flowing down to sweeten the Dead 
Sea.* No prophet has trifled with the impossible 
so much as Ezekiel. He recalls Fourier; but a 
Fourier who wishes to describe his phalanstery 
with the precision of an architect or a surveyor. 

Ezekiel depicts Israel as a pure theocracy with- 
out either a civil or military government, a magis- 
tracy or politics. Like all Jews, of every epoch, 
he was quite satisfied to remain in a state of 

* Ezekiel, ch. xlvii. init. 


vassalage, in which the people of God, free from 
the expense of an organized State, could enjoy the 
promises of Iahveh in its own way. The city which 
Israel dreamt of has no place in this world, except 
as the self-governing fief of a great empire, like the 
communities of the rayahs of Islam. In this city 
there is neither king nor military service ; though 
Ezekiel in the early years of his captivity still called 
his shepherd of Israel by the name of David,* with- 
out clearly stating that he would be of the race of 
David, he now only calls him nasi (prince). The 
nasi had a territorial domain, and the right of 
appanage for his children ; he also received some 
revenue, from which he was bound to provide 
victims for the public sacrifices. He was absolutely 
prohibited from imposing arbitrary taxes, such as 
Solomon established. As to the defence of Israel 
against its enemies, Iahveh took that upon himself, 
treating the neighbouring tribes with great atrocity. 
The nasi had a place of honour in the solemn 
services of worship, and a door reserved for his 
own use. He was a state king only for show,f 
not in any sense a temporal prince. The high 
priest, who after sixty years supplanted the nasi 
as head of Israel, was far better in many respects 
than this sort of spurious corregidor,% a purveyor 

* Ezekiel, ch. xxxiv. v. 23; ch. xxxvii. v. 24. 
•f Ezekiel, ch. xliv. v. 3; ch. xlv. v. 7 and following; ch. xlvi. 
v. 7 and following. 

i Police officer in Spain (note by Translator). 


of victims, a liturgical figure, whose almost only- 
function was to preside over the worship, although 
the ministers were quite independent of him in 
every way. 

The organization described by Ezekiel is so 
completely i 'aal, that he wishes the Holy Land, now 
recovered, of which he traces the position accord- 
ing to a singularly complaisant geography, to be 
symmetrically divided into equal parts by rectangu- 
lar zones going from the Mediterranean to the 
Jordan, for the twelve tribes, which no longer 
existed.* The holy domain and the princes' estate 
are described as separate squares. The capital city 
should also have its portion of land.f It should be 
neutral between the twelve tribes, like a sort of 
Washington, organized by representatives of all 
the tribes who lived on the produce of the domain. 
Tribes that had been long incorporated with the 
nation, like the Rechabites, Kenites, and Calebites, 
would be entirely blended with it. The liberal 
humane spirit of Deuteronomy is found in Ezekiel 
whenever national anger and puritan fanaticism 
do not stifle it. 

The temple imagined by Ezekiel bears no re- 
semblance beyond the general arrangement to the 
small edifice built by Solomon. The details given 
à priori by the prophet are carried to such a point 

* Ezekiel, ch, xlvii, v. 13 and following. 
+ Ezekiel, xlv. v, 6; ch. xlviii. v. 8 and following, 21. 
in. z 


that at times tlie temple does not seem to be at 
Jerusalem.* It is a colossal barracks placed in the 
centre of the holy domain, and intended to contain 
a sacerdotal army. Even the name of Jerusalem 
will disappear. The city will be called Iahve 
samma, " Iahveh is (lives) there." The priests 
descended from Zadok (the first priest of Solomon's 
temple) have the exclusive right of ascending to 
the altar. The Lévites, against whom there were 
serious complaints, for they had assisted at idol- 
atrous rites, constituted an immense difficulty. 
We have seen Jeremiah and Deuteronomy decide 
the question in the most radical fashion. In their 
eyes every priest is a Lévite, or, as they say, " the 
priests, the Lévites." f Perfect equality apparently 
existed amongst these Levitical priests. This was 
doubtless the expression of a wish rather than the 
statement of a fact. The editor of the book of 
Kings lays some stress upon the difference of rank 
amongst them. J Ezekiel defines the theory. The 
Zadokite priests are, r in his eyes, the only legiti- 
mate ones. The Lévites, having assisted in illegal 
worship, § are servants of an inferior order; they 
do not appear in the public sacrifices. They are 
to inhabit separate villages in the suburbs of 

* Ezekiel, xli. v. 1 and following ; ch. xlviii. v. 8 and following, 

f See above, p. 183, and Jeremiah, ch. xxxiii. v. 18, 21, 22. 

J 2 Kings, ch. xxiii. v. 8 and following. See above, p. 156. 

§ Ezekiel, ch. xliv. v. 10 and following; ch. xlviii. v. 11 and 


Jerusalem.* As to the Zadokite priests they were 
all equal. The sacrifices and festivals are more 
fully developed in Ezekiel than in Deuteronomy; 
tithes do not exist. The sustenance of the priests 
is provided for by the firstfruits and the dues in 
kind on the sacrifices. 

Such is the code of the theocracy, to which 
succeeding legislations made scarcely any additions, 
but which formed, at the time it was drawn up, the 
most complete innovation. Until then, no absolute 
distinction had been made between the priests and 
the Lévites. Ezekiel, no doubt actuated by old 
priestly animosities, dating from the time of his 
sacerdotal youth, would only recognise the de- 
scendants of the aristocratic Zadok as true priests. 
This was consistent. Ezekiel wished for a sacer- 
dotal theocracy. A body of priests concentrating 
all the authority in its own hands cannot be large. 
Ezekiel did not attain (at all events before 575) 
the idea of the great hereditary high priest, familiar 
to later times ; but he almost touched it. In any 
case Ezekiel was, unconsciously, the father of a 
word which filled an important rôle in history. 
Through him Zadoki became the designation of 
a rich haughty priest who despised the poor. 
From this came Sadducean. The concentration of 
the lucrative sacerdoce in a few hands must in- 
evitably produce bad effects. A sacerdotal aris- 
tocracy soon becomes irreligious and unbelieving. 

* Ezekiel, ch. xlv. v. 5, corrected according to the Greek. 

z 2 


The long ritual described by Ezekiel * is less 
the work of a prophet than of a priest. In it we 
realise the prepossessions of a man who has assisted 
at the sacrifices, has seen the abuses of the estab- 
lished customs, and has long ago based his pro- 
gramme of reform upon them. The prophet 
reappears in the ideal conception of the new Jeru- 
salem, the source of life and purity for the world 
to come, sole origin of the waters which purify, 
cure, and fertilise. The description of the slopes 
from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea having become 
an immense orchard of trees, bearing fruit every 
month, even their leaves possessing healing quali- 
ties, suggested the finest images to the Christian 
seer of the time of G-alba. The celestial Jerusalem 
of the Apocalypse, which has consoled the world 
for eighteen hundred years, is a slightly modified 
copy of the Jerusalem of Ezekiel. Thus, in this 
strange genius, the eschatological visions of pro- 
phetism were united, by a phenomenon, unique in 
Israel, to the matter- of «-fact details of the Thora. 

• Ezekiel, ch. xliv. and following. 



Was Ezekiel alone in thus constructing Utopias for 
a restoration, generally believed to be impending ? 
Certainly not. Every thing proves that in the thirty 
or forty years after the siege of Jerusalem there 
was a period when the new Deuteronomy, the code 
of the future, was elaborated. All pious men 
admitted that Israel should have a new law after 
the restoration.* The prophetic spirit was con- 
sidered a permanent inspiration, adequate to com- 
plete and alter the Thora. The work was therefore 
commenced, not with the precision natural when it 
is a question of drawing up measures soon to be 
applied, but with the ambiguity suitable to rather 
indefinite aspirations. And, in fact, the laws 
added to the Mosaic code at this epoch are dis- 
tinguished by their speculative, chimerical charac- 
ter. They are not the expedients of practical 

* See above, pp. 277, 278. 


people fighting with necessity, and doing their best 
to cope with the requirements of a situation which 
forces them to take decided measures ; but they are 
rather general indications, which become puerile 
when any attempt is made to bring them into a 
practical form, plans resembling those that friends 
of the Count de Chambord might elaborate around 
him, or that might be discussed in socialist clubs. 
The code of the restoration was thus sketched out 
fifty years in advance. These pages were not 
written at the time of the reconstruction of the 
temple, but at an epoch when the hopes of the 
nation were only dreams and the country lay before 
them like a white paper, to which they could 
commit the boldest solutions of the situation with- 
out any fear of having to control their realisation. 

In any case, the close connection which exists 
between the nine last chapters of Bzekiel and the 
sacerdotal and Levitical portions of the Thora is 
very striking. Just as Deuteronomy rises, in some 
degree spontaneously, by the side of Jeremiah, as 
the codified form of his ideas, so by the side of 
Ezekiel appears the sacerdotal Thora, which we 
should call Leviticus, if its scattered members were 
not equally found in Exodus, Numbers, and Joshua. 
The procedure of this ideal construction, if we may so 
express it, is always the same. The tabernacle and 
the Israelitish camp in the desert are drawn on a kind 
of square lined paper, which renders them quite 
analogous to the temple of Ezekiel and to his map of 


Palestine, in which all the lines are straight. The 
stiffness, the arrangement a 'priori, the impossi- 
bility, are the same in both cases. In many places, 
especially in certain portions of Leviticus, the style 
bears a strong resemblance to that of the prophet. 
Change the turn of the instructions that God is 
supposed to have given to Bzekiel in the visions 
of the year 575, let them be produced as though 
dictated by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, any one 
reading these visions would believe that he was 
studying some chapters of Leviticus. 

The Book of the Covenant, the Decalogue, and 
Deuteronomy remained at the base of the religious 
institutions of the nation ; but some new and very 
important ideas tended to become established. The 
position of the Lévites was always an open wound, 
and after the return no amelioration seemed possible 
for them. Following the theory of Ezekiel, the aim 
was rather to increase the separation between the 
priests and the Lévites. In his opinion the priests 
only could serve Iahveh ; the Lévites waited upon 
the priests ; * their duties were those of the hiero- 
dules occupied in the lower services of the temple. 
Since all modern institutions must have their root 
in Mosaical times, the Life of Moses was enriched 
by legends intended to prove that any attempt on 
the part of the Lévites to usurp the sacerdotal 
functions was a crime worthy of death. The 

* Numbers, cb. iii., iv., xviii., etc. 


singers and musicians appear to have occupied a 
kind of honourable rank amongst the Lévites. 
These functions were reported to have been in the 
hands of a Levitical family called the Beni-Korah 
or sons of Ivorah.* They were supposed — perhaps 
they imagined it themselves — to be descended from 
a Lévite of their own name, who lived in the time 
of Moses. A terrible legend had gathered round 
this Korah. He aspired to sacerdotal powers 
equalling those of Aaron. A kind of judgment by 
God was commanded. The Aaronites on one side, 
the Korahites on the other, drew near to the temple 
with their censers. Fire from heaven devoured 
Korah, his band, and their censers. t Neither 
Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Deuteronomy, or the ancient 
prophets ever allude to Aaron as the stem of the 
true sacerdoce. The old histories mention Aaron 
but simply as the brother and prophet of Moses. 
On the other hand, the idea of Aaron as high priest 
is predominant in the later sacerdotal code. In it 
the priests are all sons of Aaron. Aaron is at their 
head like a natural president. The presbyterial 
rôle of Aaron and the idea of the high priest were 
therefore originated at the same time. There was 
no high priest in the old times, even in those of 

* 1 Chronicles, ch. vi. v. 33 and following; ch. ix. v. 19; ch. 
xxvi. v. 1; 2 Chronicles, ch. xx. v. 19; the titles of eleven Psalms. 

f Numbers, ch. xvi., in which we clearly see the confusion of 
the old Iahveist account of Dathan and Abiram with the modern 
legends so hostile to the Korahites. 


Ezekiel.* The commencement of this office was 
first seen under Josiah ; the army of priests grouped 
round the temple required a head. Yet, in 575, 
Ezekiel, as we have seen, avoids in his new pro- 
gramme placing any one priest higher than the 
others. It is quite possible that in his later medi- 
tations he realised the necessity for doing so, or 
that his disciples became convinced of it. However 
that may be, the myth of Aaron and the official 
establishment of a chief cohen were two proximate 
ideas, but two steps from those of Ezekiel. 
We are persuaded that they closely followed the 
programme of 575. t The rite of unction % was the 
sign of pre-eminence by election. The high priest 
is described as anointed, solemnly installed, clothed 
in state vestments, and forced to obey an etiquette 
so strict, that he is forbidden to wear mourning 
even for his father and mother. § 

One idea still more analogous to that of Ezekiel 
was the invention of the ohel moëd or tabernacle, 
a kind of portable temple which Moses was re- 
ported to have had made in the desert, that could 

* The history of Joash, full of improbabilities, had been retouched 
after the Captivity in a sacerdotal spirit. The Chronicles have 
rendered it quite Levitical. 

f The list of high priests ( 1 Chronicles, v. 30 and following, 
Ezra. ch. vii. v. 1 and following) is full of insolvable difficulties. 

I See Lex. ffebr. at the words *pD3 and n D. 

§ Leviticus, ch. xxi v. 10 and followmg. Cf. Leviticus, ch. iv. 
v. 2 and following; ch. vi. v. 15; ch. viii. v. 12 and following, 30; 
Numbers, ch. xxxv. v. 25, 28; Joshua, ch. xx. v. 6. 


be folded up in some way and re-erected at every 
encampment.* This is really a puerile invention, 
and upon this point Voltaire's derision was fully 
justified. Nothing can more closely resemble the 
liturgical visions of Ezekiel, characterised as they 
are by improbability and an absolute contempt for 
reality. But, from another side, the conception 
of such a fable contained something very logical, f 
Since the reign of Josiah, unity of the place of 
worship had become the fundamental dogma of 
Israel. It was advisable that this docrna should 
be traceable to Moses. Through lack of criticism 
to raise any objection, it was easy to report that 
such a state of things had existed until the con- 
struction of the temple under Solomon. Before 
the temple, it was difficult to imagine a centralised 
and solemnly organized ritual. At that time little 
attention was paid to probabilities. A temple was 
invented before the temple, and no one noticed 
the impossibilities it involved. We do not assert 
that this invention was due to Ezekiel ; but it 
must be owned that the minute descriptions we 
possess of this curious work are conceived in the 
same spirit that dictated to the prophet so many 
inachievable plans and chimerical combinations. 
The writers were evidently addressing readers 
who were not assiduous in their perusal of the 
ancient histories, for such a conception was in 

* Exodus, ch. xxv. and following. 

t Upon its roots in anterior texts, see vol. i. pp. 177, 178. 


flagrant contradiction to the old accounts of the 
history of Moses. But the absence of criticism, 
and especially the want of any complete collection 
of the texts, left room for any approximate variations. 
What one knew the other did not know, and thus 
the substance of the religious writings was enlarged 
by additions which differed from each other and 
were profoundly contradictory in their statements. 
The arrangement of the camp of Israel in a perfect 
square like a chessboard is very closely allied to 
the conception of the ohel moëd* If Ezekiel did 
not write this description he certainly conceived an 
analogous disposition. The tabernacle is in the 
centre ; Iahveh is thus enthroned in the midst of 
his people. The tribe of Levi occupies the position 
of a guard round the ark and also provides an 
equipment of porters. The twelve tribes are 
symmetrically arranged outside them, Judah, as 
might be expected, occupying the place of honour. 
The author of Deuteronomy had imagined an ana- 
logous plan,t and had deduced from it very strict 
laws of cleanliness which make us smile. The 
editor of the Levitical code makes this a geo- 
metrical plan, absolutely resembling the map of 
Palestine, and the sketch of the New Jerusalem 
by Ezekiel. The description of the sacerdotal 
vestments is of the same origin as that of the 

* Numbers, ch. i., ii., iii. 

t Deuteronomy, ch. xxiii. v. 10-15. Perhaps there may be some 
Levitical interpolation. 


tabernacle. They both infer great skill in the 
arts of needlework and decoration. Egyptian, 
Assyrian, and Tyrian influences are blended in 
them, — Egyptian features, however, keeping the 
upper hand, since Egyptian taste was still dominant 
in all works of art and industry. A sumptuous 
ritual and a splendid succession of festivals were a 
most essential feature in the thought of the religious 
organisers of that day. 

We have seen Ezekiel* placing the Lévites in a 
designated part of the sacred domain (evidently in 
the suburbs of Jerusalem) where they have special 
villages reserved for them to live in. This idea 
was afterwards developed and ended in the new 
Thora, in the eccentric conception of Levitical 
villages, another impossibility which never had 
any connection with the real arrangement of 
things. t It was supposed that after the con- 
quest of the land of Canaan, Moses had commanded 
that forty-eight cities should be selected from 
amongst the different tribes and reserved for the 
Lévites ; it was admitted that Joshua had carried 
out this order. Surely this was a sacerdotal reverie 
of the first class, one of the most singular projects 
ever devised for getting rid of an intolerable social 
embarrassment. Far from being disinherited, the 
Lévites, assuming such an arrangement, would have 

* Ezekiel, ch. xlv. v. 5. 

\ Leviticus, ch. xxv. v. 32 and following ; Numbers, oh. xxxv 
v. 1 and following ; Joshua, ch. xxi. 


been the richest of the Israelites. This was a much 
later expedient, or rather a solution upon paper, 
which was never executed. If an institution of 
this kind had existed before the Captivity, how is it 
possible that the author of Deuteronomy knew 
nothing of it ? The cities which are given to the 
Lévites in the twenty-first chapter of Joshua are 
alluded to in the history of Israel in the same way 
as any of the other cities ; several of them were 
not even conquered in the time of Joshua. After 
the return of the captives, we do find the Lévites 
lodged in the villages near Jerusalem,* but never 
with the regularity and legal disposition inferred 
by the Levitical interpolations of the books of 
Numbers and Joshua. It is evident that the 
conception in question had only one object, to 
solve in the direction indicated by Ezekiel this 
Levitical problem, which, since Josiah, proved 
the constant preoccupation of the religious or- 
ganizers of Judah. The geometrical impossibili- 
ties of the passage, Numbers chapter xxxv., verses 
4-5, forcibly recall those familiar to Ezekiel. 

The jubilee year f is the boldest of the Utopias 
which in these later days were engendered by the 
strongly socialistic spirit of the prophetic school. 
The most ancient code of Israel contained the 
Sabbatical year, that is to say, the repose of 

* Ezra, ch. ii. v. 70. 

f Leviticus, ch. xxv. v. 8-17, 89-41, 54; ch. xxvii. v. 17 and 
following ; Numbers, ch. xxxvi. v. 4. 


every seventh year.* This was only a theoretical 
wish, which although repeated in Deuteronomy 
was never carried out. The Utopists of the fifth 
century took it seriously, supported it by a miracle,f 
and then went further still. They desired that every 
fiftieth year the world should return, in a sort of 
periodical way, to its original state, that slaves 
should regain their liberty, and the land be restored 
to its former owners. Combined with the pre- 
scription of the Sabbatical year, this law produced 
an economical constitution that was absolutely 
impracticable. No nation ever existed under such 
a regime, % and it is permissible to say that no 
sensible man ever took up his pen to write such 
things, believing that they would be applied. 
But none of this was written in a charter prepared 
for immediate use. These curious conceptions of a 
portable tabernacle, of the Levitical cities, and the 
jubilee year, absolutely distant from all applicable 
ideas, are visibly sisters of the chimerical Jerusalem 
and of the sacred topography of Ezekiel. They are 
not the desiderata of an epoch of restoration such as 
that of Zerubbabel and Joshua the son of Jozadak. 
They are the fruits of an epoch in which the 

* See vol. ii. pp. 3U7, 312. 

j- Leviticus, ch. xxv. v. 20 and following. 

J The Sabbatical year was practised after the exile (Nehemiah, 
ch. x. v. 32 ; 1 Macch, ch. vi. v. 49, 53 ; Josephus, Ant., XIII. 
viii. 1 ; XIV. x. 6, 16 ; XV. i. 2 ; B. J., I. ii. 4), no doubt with 
many attenuations ; the jubilee year was never celebrated. 


Israelitisli Utopists, of whom Ezekiel was incom- 
parably the greatest, worked in space, never for 
one moment checked by considerations of the pos- 
sible. In truth, Ezekiel' s scheme contains an evi- 
dent allusion to the idea of the jubilee year * 
though not yet designated by the name officially 
given to it later on. 

One hypothesis, which well reconciles all these 
convergent data, is the supposition that near Eze- 
kiel and under his influence a Life of Moses was 
compiled from the ancient texts, with all the 
additions rendered necessary by the requirements 
of the time. The form was in some degree 
anecdotal. Each legal solution was brought in 
by some incident supposed to have presented 
itself to Moses or Joshua. These solutions were 
all conceived in a sense which favoured the pre- 
tensions of Aaron's family to the high-priesthood, 
and they bore a decided tinge of hatred towards 
the officials of the temple or Beni-Korah. In this 
work appeared all the recent inventions about the 
tabernacle, Aaron's position, the high priests, the 
sacerdotal vestments, and the Levitical cities. 
There was the story of the Lévite Korah intended 
to show that without sacrilege the Lévites could 
not be admitted to the privileges of the priests. 
The ancient narratives were repeated in it, softened 
and transformed into pious histories, each with a 
definite tendency. Thus we find in it a very 

* Ezekiel, ch. xlvi. v. 17. 


weakened version of the episodes of Balaam * and 
of the daughters of Zelophehad.f 

Just as the author of Deuteronomy had taken 
nearly all the old laws from the Book of the 
Covenant, to revive and develop them, so the 
new legislator included a number of anterior pre- 
scriptions in his work, as though he supposed thai 
the other codes were unknown or that his would 
suffice by itself. In view of the extremely small 
number of books then existing, it was desirable 
that each volume should contain all that referred 
to its subject. And, as afterwards the last 
arrangements of the Hexateuch were made without 
taking these double entries into account, strange 
repetitions appear in it. Nearly all the important 
laws were repeated three times, first in their 
ancient form (Book of the Alliance or Decalogue), 
then in the Deuteronomical form, then in the 
Levitical or sacerdotal form. J The Decalogue 
itself, which had been Reproduced in Deuteronomy, 
was repeated three or four times by the sacerdotal 
editors. § 

The moral spirit of Leviticus differs from that 
of Deuteronomy. The fanaticism and formalism 

* Numbers, ch. xxxi. v. 8 ; Joshua, ch. xiii. 22. 

\ Numbers, ch xxvii. xxxvi. ; Joshua, ch. xvii. 

% For instance, the law upon the cities of refuge : first form, 
Exodus, ch. xxi. v. 13 ; second form, Deuteronomy, xix. (cf. iv. 
41) ; third form, Numbers, ch. xxxv. and Joshua, ch. xx. 

§ Exodus, ch. xxxiv., and even in the minor Leviticus (see below 
pp. 357, 359). 


are identical.* The impression left by the re- 
formers of 622 was so great that, fifty years later, 
their work only was repeated. Pity and humanity 
are carried as far as possible, always naturally, 
in the bosom of the Israelitish family. The poor 
are surrounded by so many guarantees, that one 
asks what, in a society based upon this model, 
could be the privileges of the rich. The land is 
not really sold ; f it belongs to God only ; its human 
owner is simply the tenant of God. If a man be 
forced to sell his estate, he retains so many se- 
curities upon it that we scarcely see who would 
be tempted to buy. The twenty-fifth chapter of 
Leviticus is really a document of the civil code, in 
which humane considerations perpetually trench 
upon strict law. An Israelite, impoverished or 
weakened by old age, was to be assisted by the 
community, so as to secure for him the livelihood 
earned by a man working for his living. Usury is 
forbidden between Israelites. The brother forced 
fco sell himself must be accepted as a mercenary 
until the Jubilee ; no Israelite could really be the 
slave of an Israelite. Israelitish slaves could be 
recruited only from amongst the neighbouring 
peoples and the children of aliens settled in the 
land. To slaves procured from these sources all 
the hardships of slavery are applicable ; they can 
be transmitted as an heritage for ever, there is no 

* Leviticus, ch. xxiv. v. 10 and following, 
f Leviticus, ch. xxv. 

VOL. III. 2 A 


jubilee for them. On the other hand there is 
a ransom and jubilee for any Israelite who had 
become slave to strangers dwelling in the land of 
Israel, and he is to be protected from harsh treat- 
ment. At the jubilee the alien loses his rights. 

We see that this law is a fraternal, not a national 
law. It approaches the predominant ideas of 
certain socialistic circles. It is needless to say 
that no mental culture, no art, no science, no 
philosophy, none of those exquisite flowers which 
blossomed in Greece, could issue from such a regime. 
Under it everybody would have the same culture, 
because this culture is very mediocre. The happi- 
ness of the individual guaranteed by the social group 
to which he belongs is the sole object of the law. 

Who will maintain this fine ideal ? Who 
will protect these little paradises of brothers 
living together against the attacks of external 
force ? The socialistic Jew feels no anxiety upon 
this point. The great empires founded upon the 
military classes are 'entrusted with this work. 
This feeling produces an attitude humble yet 
haughty towards these military aristocracies, which 
jars upon our instincts. The people of Israel 
always secretly consider that they have the best 
part, and that in spite of their subordinate position 
the world really exists for them alone. They are 
full of pity for the poor fools who pass their life 
in cutting each other to pieces, instead of enjoying 
the pleasures of a peaceful life as they do. Then 


when the empire, which has served to protect 
them, crumbles to pieces, they laugh aloud, crying 
that all the nations work for the fire and labour 
for vanity."* They forget that without the shelter 
of a great civil and military society their Thora 
would be inapplicable. 

All religious orders are in the same Dosition. 


The Catholic Church, disdainful of the State as it 
is, could not live without the State. If socialism 
could attain any organization, its phalansteries, 
groups, syndicates would exist in the State, like 
small egoisms caring very little about public in- 
terests. And when it is pointed out to the en- 
thusiasts that the defenders of the State have also 
a right to some privileges, since they prevent the 
hive from being destroyed and trampled upon, they 
would no doubt answer, like Bzekiel, by apocalyptic 
predictions of the end of the nations and the future 
transformations of the world. They would not 
have the candour to admit, like Ezekiel, that they 
must first endure the invasions of Magog. Ideal 
Jerusalems bring misfortune. By stunting the 
development of the real Jerusalem they always 
lead to catastrophes, and finally to ruin and fire. 

What can be said of the immense absurdity com- 
mitted in transporting to the midst of the great 
social system a law written for a small community 
of brothers? It is like applying the rules of a 

* Jeremiah, ch. li. v. 58. 
2 a 2 


religious order to an empire, a nation. The pro- 
hibition of usury, for instance, is thoroughly con- 
sistent in the charitable law imagined by the 
Hebrew utopists. It would become injurious if 
erected into a general rule of society. In this 
respect the old Hebrew laws are perfectly reason- 
able ; the use that has been made of them in the 
middle ages by the Christianised world has been 
fatal. So true it is, that the laws of Israel are 
not true civil laws suitable for adoption by a State ! 
They are dreams, often beautiful dreams, which 
transformed into positive legislation have not been 
without some danger. 

On the whole, charity, kindness to the weak, owe a 
great deal to Israel. The law does not owe it anything. 
The code of Grortyna, of which we possess the original 
text,* is nearly contemporary with the Je wish sacerdo- 
tal code. It is superior to the latter through the clear 
notion of civil society, that is, of a society based 
upon human relationships and reason, not upon 
a supernatural fact, the supposed preference of a 
very powerful god for a certain tribe. No people 
except Israel ever prohibited usury amongst native 
subjects. The prohibition, apparently so humane, 
of the Jewish code has really more disadvantages 
than advantages. For the permission to lend upon 
usury to foreigners is underlined, and by a suc- 
cession of curious incidents the people that has 

• Rodolphe Dareste, la Loi de Gortyne, Paris, 1886. 


most condemned usury has always found itself 
branded by the unjust epithet of usurer.* Let us 
add that the Jewish laws upon usury have rendered 
bad service to the world, for Christianity adopted 
them, and Christianity having become, first, a most 
considerable portion, and then the whole of progres- 
sive humanity, the world during some centuries sub- 
mitted to a very bad law — the prohibition of loans upon 
interest, which considerably prolonged the middle 
ages and delayed civilization for one thousand years. 

Without resulting in a work as clearly defined as 
Deuteronomy, a new code was, in fact, born in 
Israel. A great many hesitations were produced. 
The recasting of the law became the perpetual 
occupation of active spirits, particularly in the 
circle of which Ezekiel was the centre. Any 
endeavour to discover in detail the after- touches, 
amendments, caprices of penmanship admitted by 
the sacred scribes, would be attempting the impos- 
sible. Criticism mistakes its rôle when in these 
questions it insists too much upon great precision in 
details. The bibliography of a time when there were 
only one or two copies of each book could not respond 
to the same question as that of our own days. 

What, for instance, could be more singular than 

* It would take a long time to explain all the phases of this 
singular mistake. In reality, the devolution of the trade in money 
to the Jews dates from the middle ages, and is due to the impossi- 
bilities which the canonical law created for Christians in all money 
matters. It commenced in Spain, under the Visigoths. 


the small code which is found embedded in the 
book of Leviticus from ch. xviii. to ch. xxvi. 
These chapters form a book complete in its unity 
and presenting the same characteristic expressions 
from one end to the other ; now these expressions 
are exactly the ones preferred by Ezekiel, and they 
are scarcely found elsewhere. One is therefore led to 
suppose that the small book contained in ch. xviii. - 
xxvi. of Leviticus is only a posterior arrangement 
of the law by Ezekiel found in ch. xl.-xlviii. It 
has been thought that Ezekiel himself composed 
this species of fair copy, with some modifications of 
his original meditations, enriching it with extracts 
borrowed from more ancient writings.* It is 
perhaps wiser to believe that the small work in 
question was composed from the writings of 
Ezekiel by one of his disciples. t The institution 
of the high priest, the Aaronite source of the 
sacerdoce, the tabernacle and the Levitical cities are 
all mentioned in it. The document claims to be a 
complete summary of tne laws that Iahveh revealed 
to Moses upon Mount Sinai. It was a new Deu- 
teronomy adapted to the times, and implying that 
the code of Josiah was not much read. The closing- 
threats (ch. xxvi.) prove that these short laws 

* This was the opinion of Graf, de Kayser. What can be more 
striking in this respect than the passage, Ezekiel, ch. xlvi. v. 17, in 
which we find an allusion to the institution lengthily developed in 
Leviticus, ch. xxr. ? 

| This is the opinion of Messrs. Reuss, Horst, Wellhausen. 


newly arranged and forming complete series, were 
in some degree a style of literature, subject to rules 
and having its regular forms. Every one refashioned 
his own Thora, and no doubt many of these ephe- 
meral compositions have disappeared.* 

The twenty or twenty-five years which followed 
the transportation were thus an epoch of great 
creative activity. The substance of nearly all the 
sacerdotal and Levitical portions of the Thora 
appears to date from this epoch; the form was 
afterwards altered several times. Just as Jeremiah 
inspired Deuteronomy, so Ezekiel inspired Levi- 
ticus, f The three stages of religious legislation 
amongst the Hebrews may be thus clearly distin- 
guished : a primary age, characterised by a 
grandiose genius, expressing itself in simple for- 
mulas which the whole world has been able to 
adopt (this is the age of the ancient prophets, of the 
Book of the Covenant, of the Decalogue) ; a second 
age, stamped by a severe and touching morality, 
marred by a very intense fanatic pietism (this is 
the age of Deuteronomy and Jeremiah) ; a third age, 
sacerdotal, narrow, utopie, full of chimeras and 
impossibilities (the age of Ezekiel and Leviticus). 
Like all great works, the Jewish Thora is anony- 

* The fusion of these new elements of religious legislation in 
the already existing body of the Thora will be explained in our 
seventh book. 

•f Including under this name the Levitical portions of Exodus, 
Numbers, and Joshua. 


mous ; not entirely however, for behind the text, 
which has become in the highest degree sacred, it 
is possible to discern three or four great figures, 
Elijah (altogether legendary), Isaiah, Jeremiah, and 




Since the time of Hezekiah the Hebrews had been 
much inclined to write. Exile, by condemning 
them to a sedentary and retired life, increased this 
natural taste. A great many Hebrew pages were 
written by the canals of Babylon. The ancient 
Scriptures had been carried there in a state of 
some disorder. The captives occupied themselves 
in arranging them. We have seen that the Thora 
was still incomplete, no one had any idea that it 
was closed. Those works of the prophets which 
were fairly uniform in tone became mixed with 
deplorable facility. It is certainly possible that 
at this epoch a great many deficiencies and much 
confusion had been caused which were then clumsily 
repaired. Nothing, however, can be more erroneous 
than the rather widely diffused idea that the Hebrew 
literature, destroyed at the capture of Jerusalem, 
was in some degree rewritten from memory during, 


or after, the Captivity.* The transmission of the 
ancient texts was badly done, but it was done. 
No doubt Ezekiel, at the time of the first trans- 
portation, had already some books with him. Nor 
is it probable that the captives of 588 would 
neglect these treasures, which were as the food of 
life to them, particularly since the destruction of 
the temple. 

The annals of the kings of Israel and Judah 
until the end of Jehoiakim,f still existed in a 
complete state. The history of the reigns of 
Jehoiachin and Zedekiah was preserved in the 
memory of Jeremiah's disciples, and was almost 
blended with their recollections of their master. 
Baruch was certainly the centre of this work. 
The end of the second book of Kings is thus 
closely connected with the book of Jeremiah. J 
The editor of Jeremiah's work would seem to have 
arranged the last pages of the book of Kings after 
Manasseh. The abridger, who, through a free use of 


* Esdras is usually credited with this care, according to the 
Apocalypse of Esdras, written at the end of the first century of our 
era, (4 Esdras, ch. xiv.). Christian writers, St. Ireneus, St. 
Augnstine, and St. Jerome, accepted this idea rather inconsider- 

f Jehoiakim is the last king for whom the formula .... *"D"1 
*1]V| (2 Kings, ch. xxiv. v. 5) was used. 

J The contradictory accounts of the end of Jehoiachin (see 
above p. 246) should not attract too much attention. In editing 
the prophets the writers did not feel obliged to withdraw any un- 
fulfilled prophecies. Apologetic scruples did not exist at that 


scissors, has placed these meagre annals in their pre- 
sent state, probably dates from a much later period. 

The work of editing Jeremiah's writings was 
performed in a singularly disorderly way and 
with much indecision.* The copies varied 
in the distribution of the surates, and in 
several of these copies the disciples introduced 
ideas which the old prophet had not enun- 
ciated with equal clearness. t Later on, still larger 
interpolations were made in them.J Few books 
were read and commented upon with so much 
passion ; each reader noted his reflections in the 
margin of his manuscripts, then afterwards, these 
marginal notes passed into the text. In fact, the 
spirit of the school was so absolute that the voice of 
the disciple and that of the master could sometimes 
blend together without any great inconvenience. 

The misfortunes of the times led to the formation 
of a book of elegies or lamentations called Sepher 
qinoth. In it were included several already ancient 
poems ; for instance, the elegies on the death of 
Josiah, which were attributed to Jeremiah. § To 
these were soon added some chapters of a rather 
artificial rhetoric, all dwelling upon the same 

* Repetitions arising from the disorder of the leaflets. Jeremiah, 
ch. x. v. 12 and following ; ch. li. v. 15 and following. 

j" We have really two editions of Jeremiah, that of the actual 
Hebrew text and that which is represented by the Greco- Alex- 
andrian version. 

J See below, p. 374 and following. 

S 2 Chronicles, ch. xxxv. v. 25. 


subject — the siege of Jerusalem and the Captivity. 
These pieces were also ascribed to Jeremiah.* They 
appear to have been solemnly chanted on certain 
occasions. t Some pathetic psalms which express 
repentance have, perhaps, the same origin. % But 
it is very difficult to discern accurately here, for 
henceforth mourning strains form the usual key- 
note of the hymns of Israel. 

One custom established from the years which 
followed the ruin of Jerusalem must have greatly 
contributed to the development of this literature 
of elegiac songs. This was the practice of con- 
secrating as fast days the anniversaries of the 
catastrophes the people had just witnessed, the 
commencement of the siege, the capture of the 
city, the burning of the city and temple in the 
months of Tammuz, Ab, and Tebeth. These fasts 
were accompanied by weeping, by the ordinary 
signs of mourning, and the cessation of every 
occupation, like the Sabbath day ! § 

It is not readily admitted that the Jews who 
remained in Judea displayed any literary activity 
during the exile of the most noble part of the 
nation. However, it is possible that our imagi- 

* Lamentations, first verse of the Greek version, which certainly 
existed in the Hebrew text, used by the Alexandrine translators. 

■f 2 Chronicles, loc. cit. 

J For instance, Psalms xiv. xxii. xxxiv. li. liii. lxix. lxxi. lxxiii. 
lxxvii. lxxxii. cii. xciv. cxxiii. 

§ Isaiah, ch. lviii. v. 3 and following ; Zechariah, ch. vii. v. 1 
and following ; ch. vni. v. 19. 


nation deceives us in this respect. Certain critics 
attribute chapters xxiv.-xxvii of the book of Isaiah, 
and also chapter v. of Lamentations, to the Jews 
in Palestine. 

We may place the death of Ezekiel towards 560. 
His works, consisting of written pieces, not of 
slowly edited recitations, were easy to collect. 
Ezekiel had not so compact a school as that of 
Jeremiah. The book containing his visions was 
less read and consequently less interpolated. The 
lofty individuality of his style was like a barrier 
which prevented re-touches. The book of Ezekiel 
is, therefore, almost the only book in the Bible 
which has not been altered. 

The works of Isaiah were still, it would seem, 
in considerable disorder. We shall soon find them 
interpolated in the most serious fashion. Perhaps, 
in some of the editions then made, that inaugural 
scene was placed at the beginning of them,* which 
is analogous to those we read at the head of the 
books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, in which Iahveh 
appears at the end of the sanctuary surrounded 
by seraphim,t sphinxes endowed with six wings, 

* Now ch. vi. The date given at the head seems taken from the 
title, ch. i.y. 1. It was maintained that Isaiah had prophesied under 
Uzziah ; but as that would have made his career very long, the 
editors confined his first prophecy to the last year of the king's 

f These fantastic creatures only appear here. Their origin is 
quite uncertain. See Dieulafoy, VArt antique de la Perse, 1st 
part, pi. xvii. 


analogous to the cherubim. Isaiah fears that he 
shall die, for he has seen God. His lips are im- 
pure. One of the seraphim takes a live coal from 
the altar of incense and touches his lips with it. 
Henceforth he is qualified to speak in the name of 

We shall soon see that prophetism retained at 
the time of the Captivity some illustrious repre- 
sentatives who continued it in the purest line of 
the genius of Israel. They still wrote perfectly, 
and the ancient books were like classics, which 
maintained the language and which others endea- 
voured to imitate. The Oriental influence, which 
according to some authors was exercised over the 
transported Jews, is reduced almost to zero. Far 
from opening to external ideas, the Jewish spirit 
concentrated itself more than ever in itself, in its 
own traditions, its own passions, and its own 
animosities. It dreamed only of Jerusalem. The 
Jew of that date, in a foreign land, went about 
with his eyes shut lite a Mussulman of to-day; 
he learnt nothing.* No scientific information 
penetrated those closed consciences. The idea of 
the Chaldean cosmogony, traces of which are found 
in the first page of Genesis, is derived from far 
more ancient sources. Babylon, in the sixth 

* We might quote, in this respect, the example of Abdelkader, 
who, placed in the most favourable circumstances for self-instruc- 
tion, yet confined himself to his old Arabian culture, which was 
singularly poor. 


century b.c., was not capable of giving lessons of 
purified theology ; * in any case, the two most 
eminent Jews of this epoch, the author of Super 
flumina and the author of the second portion of 
Isaiah, certainly owe nothing to the influence of 
that Babel of which they invoke or hail the ruin. 
The changes in. the Jewish spirit attributed to the 
Captivity relate rather to the restoration of Zerub- 
babel and Joshua the son of Jozadak, and all 
these changes issue, by an inflexible logic, from 
the ancient Israelitish conception, such as the 
school of Elijah, the prophets of the eighth 
century, Isaiah, the anavim, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel 
had formulated it. 

* The common errors respecting the influence of the Captivity 
upon the Jews arise from the erroneous ideas formerly accepted 
upon the antiquity of the Avesta. The Avesta is relatively 
modern ; moreover, had it existed in the sixth century before out 
era, how could it have influenced Babylon before Cyrus ? 



Nebuchadnezzar died towards 561, leaving the 
throne to his son Evil-Merodach. Jehoiachin, the 
last king of Judah but one, still lived in his prison 
at Babylon. Evil-Merodach released him, probably 
a measure celebrating his accession. An honour- 
able position was assigned to him amongst the 
vanquished kings who filled Babylon. A sum of 
money was granted for his maintenance and that of 
his household, and it is said that he was admitted 
to the table of his conqueror's son. 

Evil-Merodach and Neriglissar reigned but a 
short time; the throne was then occupied by a 
child, who was assassinated in 555. The house of 
Nebuchadnezzar ended with him. A short dynasty, 
like all dynasties in the East, but one which had 
displayed the greatest capacity and power that had 
yet been seen. Nabonadius, one of the conspiritors, 
maintained the Empire of Babylon for seventeen 


years longer, during which period, the events 
which were to change the axis of the world's affairs 
assumed a decisive turn. The years of Babylon 
were numbered. To the east of the Tigris, the 
Aryan populations of the Medes and Persians, both 
terrible through their military organization, com- 
pleted their definitive union under the command of 
one of the most powerful organizers of empires 
mentioned by history, Cyrus the Persian, in some 
respects the Charlemagne of the ancient world, 
and the starting point of a new order of affairs. 
Iran made its entrance upon the world's arena with 
unequalled brilliancy. 

The battle of Thymbria and the fall of the half- 
Assyrian kingdom of Lydia (554), a war of fifteen 
years' duration in Bactriana and Scythia, which 
reunited in one great force all the healthy military 
populations of Iran, decided the fate of Asshur. 
Invincible in their day, these troops of Nineveh and 
Babylon, chiefly, so it would seem, recruited in the 
Cardûchi Mountains and in Armenia, had found 
their masters. The chances of war, so often 
iniquitous, were just, at least, for this once. The old 
Assyrian empire, alternately Ninevite and Baby- 
lonian, did not deserve to live. The Roman 
empire was equally harsh ; but it civilized and 
prepared the way for a truly humanitarian rule, 
the empire of the second century, which has been 
one of the corner stones of progress. Iran, 
vol. 111. 2 B 


although it did little towards civilization, was 
worth more than Asshur. The intellectual capa- 
city of these feudal and warlike populations was 
certainly weak; but the moral faculty was vigorous 
amongst them. We can imagine the Persians of 
Cyrus resembling the Franks of Austrasia, bar- 
barous, ignorant, naïve, honest, faithful to the oath 
they had taken. The system of transportation, 
which had justly exasperated the Bast, was never 
practised by the Persians. The numerous peoples 
that Assyria had oppressed commenced to breathe 
once more when they saw this great deliverance 
appearing on the horizon. The world felt relieved 
from the pressure of a leaden weight. 

This impression was most vivid amongst the cap- 
tives from Judea. The prophets had announced 
that Iahveh would break the rod which He had used 
for the chastisement of the nations. Oracles, in which 
the ruin of Babylon was clearly foreseen and affirmed, 
were circulated on all sides. When the signs that 
preceded the day of Grod's judgment drew nearer, 
the prophecies were multiplied and became more 
definite. A great many chapters, which were 
included in the book of Isaiah, when the volume of 
the prophets was compiled, date from this period. 
The mistake was easily madb, for the Hebrew 
writers in Babylon often tried to imitate the style 
of Isaiah, or even to shelter themselves under his 
name. It is also possible that pieces by the 


ancient prophets were sometimes revived, and 
applied after a few alterations to actual circum- 
stances, as Isaiah had done in his prophecy against 
Moab. Such is also the case with the prophecy 
contained in chapters xxvi.-xxvii. of the book of 
Isaiah, which might be taken for the style of Hosea, 
and which contain allusions almost certainly 
referring to the events of the sixth century, the 
destruction of Babylon, the return of the captives, 
and the re-establishment of Jerusalem. 

We hear, in the midst of the prophetic tumult of 
Israel, the clear voice, the sonorous tone, the 
pathetic and touching accents * of one admirable 
poet, who wished to lose his own identity in the 
brightness of Isaiah. Israelitish feeling towards 
550 was so unanimous, that it is difficult to decide 
whether in this lofty deutero-Isaiahic harmony we 
hear one or several voices. But it is quite certain 
that several songs of rare beauty have slipped in 
amongst the leaflets of Isaiah referring to the siege 
of Babylon, and sounding like the ring of poetic 
bugles, the flourish of trumpets, of the great 

* The four pieces, Isaiah, ch. x'ii. v. 1 to ch. xiv. v. 23 ; ch. xxi. 
v. 1-10 ; ch. xxxiv. ; and ch. xxxv., are contemporary with the 
siege of Babylon. They appear to be by the same author ; but it 
is not certain that they were written by the author of the grand 
poem, Isaiah, ch. xl.-lxvi., although the analogies between them 
are very great, and one notices some expressions borrowed from 
each other. Compare, for instance, Isaiah, ch. xxxv. v. 10, to 
Isaiah, ch. li. v. 11. 



drama being played. The most striking of the 
prophetic utterances is a massa against Babylon,* 
in which the Medes are already indicated as 
the executioners of the extermination decreed by 

The hymn which Israel shall sing on the day 
when her ruler falls is dictated beforehand. t 

* Isaiah, ch. xiii. v. 1 to ch. xiv. v. 23. 
j" Isaiah, ch. xiv. .v. 4 and following. 




In proportion as the circle closed round Babylon, so 
the Israelitish prophet raised his voice.* The year 
of revenge had come at last. The Seer considers 
himself as a sentinel placed by Iahveh to watch the 
horizon, whilst the Babylonians eat and drink.f 
He discovers innumerable cavalry advancing at a 
gallop ; he joins them in imagination. 

The feverish state of the Seer seems to redouble 
with the carnage. All the signs of the day of 
Iahveh reveal themselves to him. J And then he 
sees the deliverance accomplished. § The desert 
which the Israelites must cross before they can 

* Isaiah, ch. xxi. v. 1-10. 

| Isaiah, ch. xxi. v. 5. From this afterwards arose the legend 
of Belshazzar. Compare Jeremiah, ch. li. v. 30-31. 

J Isaiah, ch. xxxiv. Edom and Bozrah in this surate appear to 
personify Babylon, just as later on Edom symbolically designated 

§ Isaiah, ch. xxxy. Perhaps forms one whole with xxxiy. 


regain their country adorns itself with flowers in 
honour of such noble travellers. 

It was a rule of the prophets of that time to 
write anonymously. Either to evade the suspicions 
of the Chaldean police, or because no one ventured 
to compare himself with Isaiah and Jeremiah, no 
one after Ezekiel dared to prophesy in his own 
name. There was a reason for the preceding 
verses being incorporated in the writings of Isaiah. 
Their author could circulate them under the name 
of Isaiah, or, what comes to the same thing, insert 
them in an edition of the ancient prophet adapted 
to the necessities of the times. The ideas then 
current upon prophecy admitted the belief that 
Isaiah, a hundred and fifty years before, had foreseen 
these events by a supernatural gift. It was acknow- 
ledged that there were passages in the prophetic 
treasury not yet fulfilled, but which would be 
accomplished as circumstances developed them- 
selves. From this admission to fabricating these 
oracles was not a very' long step. 

Capital was made out of the name of Jeremiah 
as well as of Isaiah. In this case the fraud was 
much easier, because the school of Jeremiah still 
existed and continually added fresh touches to the 
master's work. The disciples commenced by inter- 
polating authentic visions, for instance, that of the 
fourth year of Jehoiakim.* It was supposed that 

* Jeremiah, ch. xxv. v. 12, 13, 14, 26, were added or re- 
arranged. See aboyé, p. 363. The permutation of the letters pre- 


Jeremiah, taking advantage of Zedekiah'.s journey 
in 594, remitted to the king's chamberlain, who was 
Baruch's brother, a small book in which the destruc- 
tion of Babylon was clearly foretold.* Later on 
prophecies were attributed to the prophet of 
Anatoth which clearly intimated the impending fall 
of the Chaldean empire. t 

The prophet seems to believe that sheltered by 
the anarchy which would be produced, the Babylo- 
nian captives might then return to their own country. 

It is God who excites the kings of Media; he 
has to avenge his temple. The world unites to 
crush Babylon ; when the cry is heard, " Babylon 
is fallen," the earth trembles, echo shall tell it afar 
off amongst the nations. Fugitives will carry the 
tidings to Zion, of the vengeance of Iahveh, of 
the punishment of the destroyers of the temple. 
Then the captives will regain their liberty, the 
sins of those who have been thus spared will be 
obliterated. The hammer of the whole earth will 
be broken. 

The gates of Babylon are broken in ; the king 
does not yet know of it. Post after post, messenger 
after messenger bring him the tidings that his city 
is taken, the passages are occupied, the marshes on 
fire, and the men of war affrighted. 

sented by the Hebrew text, Jeremiah, ch. xxv. v. 26 ; li. r. 1, 41, 

appears to be only tricks of the copyists. 
* Jeremiah, ch. li. v. 59-64. 
f Ch. 1. and li. 


Zion then demands her flesh and blood from the 
inhabitants of Babylon. Iahveh has a question of 
honour to settle with his rival, Bel, who has the 
sacred vases of Jerusalem in his temple. Iahveh 
will make him disgorge that which he has swal- 
lowed, then the nations will cease to flow unto the 
false God. 

We see that already the rule of Israel is to avoid 
meddling in the quarrels of the powers between 
themselves. The people are content to take ad- 
vantage of them. The disturbance produced by 
Chaldean vanity will cease. All the wounded upon 
earth will be avenged. Babylon shall never rise 
again. Her broad walls shall be utterly over- 
thrown, and her high gates shall be burned with 

And the people shall labour for vanity, and 
the nations for. the fire ; and they shall be 


The great irony, mingled with pity, with which 
the thinker is inspired by that empty dream, which 
poor humanity, in love with its own executioners, 
calls glory, has never expressed itself in a more 
forcible touch. t Greece understood the small 
infantine pleasure of the interior life of cities 
marvellously well. The ruins of the great em- 

* Jeremiah, ch. li. v. 58 ; Habakkuk, ch. ii. v. 13. See above, 
p. 242. 

f It can be compared only to the final reflections of the songs 
of Schahnameh. 


pires, with, the rage and tears which they provoke, 
the loftier though profoundly sad feeling, with 
which the peaceful man contemplates these falls, 
the commiseration excited in the heart of the sage 
by the spectacle of the nations labouring for vanity, 
victims of the arrogance of the few, the vanity of 
all things, and fire, the last judge of human societies 
(which does not exclude invincible faith in an ideal 
future) : all this Greece was unable to see, but all 
this has been expressed by the Jewish prophets with 
admirable sagacity. 

The crisis which inspired the prophetic genius 
of Israel with such lofty eloquence was very long. 
Sagacious minds perceived that Babylon was doomed 
long before the Medo-Persian league had conquered 
it. The investment of Babylon lasted more than 
two years.* A blockade was impossible. The 
population did not believe in the danger of a 

* The accounts formerly accepted of the siege of Babylon by 
Cyrus agree but moderately with the account that savants now 
believe can be read in the cuneiform texts (Pinches, in the Trans- 
actions of the Society of Biblical Archœology, v. vii. p. 139-167 ; H. 
Rawlinson in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society y new series 
v. xiii. (1889), p. 70 and following). We believe that too little 
attention is paid to the Greek texts, anecdotic, no doubt, in details, 
but fundamentally agreeing with Hebraic proclamations contem- 
porary with the siege, which we have analysed, and which imply a 
much more terrible catastrophe than recent critics are inclined td 


capture by main force. It devoted itself to its 
business and pleasures as though it were in times 
of peace.* The assailants were obliged to turn 
the Euphrates out of its course, or rather to drain 
its bed by numerous channels. t It is said that 
one day, when the population was entirely absorbed 
in one of its festivals, the Persian army entered the 
city by the bed of the river. In their general sense 
the words of the prophets were fulfilled. The 
power of Asshur, which had weighed upon Israel 
for more than two hundred years, was annihilated 
for ever (536 b.c.). In their turn the sons of 
Achaemenies were to hold the sceptre of Asia 
during two hundred years. 

* See Isaiah, ch. xxi. v. 5 

| Possibly alluded to in Isaiah, ch. L y. 2-3. 




Although a little exhausted beforehand, through 
the bold anticipations of the prophets, the joy felt 
by the dispersed Israelites when they heard the 
news of the fall of Babylon was a real intoxication.* 
The facts, however, only half fulfilled the terrible 
predictions uttered in the names of Isaiah and 
Jeremiah. Babylon was not destroyed; cities of 
that size have a tenacious grasp of life. It is 
doubtful whether the general massacre, which in 
prospect was used as an argument in the endea- 
vour to induce the Jews to depart, ever took place ; 
the city preserved its walls and its palaces. t The 
really mortal blow for Babylon was the siege laid 
to it by Darius, the son of Hystaspes, twenty years 
later. $ The temple of Bel was pillaged or de- 
stroyed by Xerxes. § Total ruin followed under the 

* See the great invective, Isaiah, ch. xlvii. 
f Herodotus, iii. 159. 
J Herodotus, iii. 159 ; Justin, i. 10. 

§ Herodotus, i. 183; Strabon, xvi. 1, 5; Arrian, Alex. vii. 


Seleucidas. At the Roman epoch it might be said 
that the prophecies had been fulfilled ; the space 
formerly occupied by ancient Babylon was a 

But the decisive point was the change which 
took place in all the politics of the East. This 
was truly the victory of Iahveh. Iahveh had 
fought with fury and had crushed his enemies. 

The Chaldean supremacy represented the reign 
of idolatry, force, and evil to the pious Israelite. 
It was, moreover, an iron rule, which never loosed 
one of its prisoners. t Under it, therefore, no hope 
could be entertained of any return home. The 
manners of the new dynasty were more serious, 
better suited to please the votaries of Iahveh. 
Races of relative morality were replacing the un- 
intelligent ferocity which had been known hitherto. 
Without evincing any real elements of progress 
(Greece alone possessed them), the new empire was 
not violent and it allowed the movement to take 
place, provided its action was slow. Persia % would 
have been fatal if it had conquered Greece, but van- 
quished by the latter it proved useful. It filled 
a great place in the world. Jewish and Christian 

* Strabon, Z.c. ; Pausanias, VIII. xxxiii. 1 ; Dion Cassius, 
lxxv. 9. 

\ Isaiah, ch. xiv. v. 17 ; Jeremiah, ch. 1. v. 33. 

\ The name of Persia does not appear in the Hebrew writings 
before Esther and Daniel, Pseudo-Isaiah and pseudo-Jeremiah 
only knew the name of Medes, 


progress owe it immense gratitude. Israel, who 
rebelled against Greece and provoked his own 
destruction by Rome, treated Iran as a brother, 
and wished him to share in Iahveh's esteem. 

The Iranian religion in the sixth century b.c. was 
not yet separated from the Aryan trunk.* Ahura- 
mazda,t "the omniscient" (Ormazd), was a truly 
Supreme God, more abstract even than Iahveh; 
his rival Angra-manizu (Ahriman) was not fully 
developed; so that the Persian religion at that 
epoch was a kind of Monotheism.^ It had no 
temples. § It even reached the usual results of 
Monotheism, intolerance, an exaggerated horror of 
images. || 

This all tended to establish a great sympathy 
between Israel and the new conquerors. The 
institution of the magi, which may date back to 
the Media of the seventh century b.c., was not 

* The gathas of the Yaçna and of the Vendidad have some ana- 
logy with the Vedas. Darmesteter, The Zend Avesta, v. i. p. liii. 

t See the formula of the opening of the cuneiform inscriptions 
of the Achaemenidae, of which the most ancient is only twenty-five 
years posterior to Cyrus. Compare Yaçna, init. and xxxv. 1-3. 

J See Spiegel, Eranische Alterthumskunde, 2nd vol. (1873); 
James Darmesteter, Ormazd et Ahriman (Paris, 1877) ; Essais 
orientaux (Paris, 1883, pp. 120 and following); Haurvatât et 
Ameretât (Paris, 1875). 

§ Herodotus,!*. 122, 131. 

I Herodotus, v. 102; vi. 9; vii. 8, etc.; Diodorus of Sicily, 
xi. 14; Polybius, v. 10. Eventually the development of Maz- 
deism bore still more resemblance to that of Judaism. The 
Parsees recall the Jews in many respects. 


without some analogies to Jewish Levitism.* A 
very lofty morality, which has been handed down 
to us through the intervening centuries in the 
Avesta, serious manly discipline^ feudal customs 
of trade guilds that were very healthy for a still 
rough humanity, constituted amongst the Persians 
the ancient source of strength, which founded 
empires, but which prosperity quickly dissolved. 
If we can believe certain translations of the 
Assyrian texts, % which, perhaps, need confirmation, 
Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, upon taking pos- 
session of Babylon in the name of his father 
(for according to those new accounts Cyrus did 
not take the city in person), sacrificed to the gods 
of the country. Cyrus, when making his entry 
into the city three months later, addressed a pro- 

* Herodotus, i. 101, 107, 111, 120, 122, 131, 138, 140; iii. 
61 and following. Compare Xenephon, Cyrop., VIII. 1. 23. The 
legend of Zoroaster with all its developments did not exist at the 
time of Cyrus. Herodotus, who writes so much about the magi, 
would have certainly allude^- to him too. On the other hand, 
after Plato and Aristotle, the Greek writers frequently mention 
him. The definitive arrangement of the Avesta, such as we now 
have it, does not appear to be anterior to the epoch of the 
Sassenides. It is parallel to the Talmud, not to the Bible, save 
for the antique touches found in it. 

f The Cyropedia is a romance; still, this proves that the old Per- 
sian laws had become an ideal in the fifth century. The opinion of 
the ancients upon the two periods of the life of Cyrus — the one sober 
and virtuous, the other corrupted by the influence of Babylon — re- 
sponds to the same general fact. 

% Pinches and H. Rawlinson, places previously quoted, p. 458. 
Maspero, pp. 582-584. 


clamation to the people, in which he announced 
that he assumed the royalty by the consent of 
the national gods. Merodach, irritated by the 
desertion of Nabonadius, had avenged himself by 
appealing to Cyrus and inciting him to march 
against Babylon. He had led the Persian army 
himself ; Cyrus was his friend, his favourite. It 
is not at all impossible that sacerdotal adulation 
was carried to this excess. According to Turkish 
accounts, the French in 1830 seized Algeria by the 
Sultan's orders to punish the rebellion of the dey. 
But, in the eyes of the Israelites, Cyrus was none 
the less the destroyer of the idols of Babylon. He 
thus appeared to the prophets as a sort of Iahveist, 
a mesifi, an anointed one, a man sent by Iahveh ; 
God himself proclaims that he is " the man of his 
counsel.* " Starting from the Christian idea of the 
life beyond the tomb, this rôle filled by a pagan 
is difficult to understand. God would have con- 
sidered it due to himself to convert to the true 
faith a man so highly honoured in the execution 
of His designs. With heaven and hell there can 
be only the elect and the reprobate. But according 
to the ancient Jewish ideas, the whole destiny of 
the individual was accomplished during his earthly 
life. God had much more liberty of action. The 
Christian Church has been obliged to make saints 
or at least Christians of Constantine, and up to a 

* in^y B^K- Isaiah, ch. xlvi. v. ii. Compare ch. xlL v. 25 ; ch. 
xliii. v. 1 ; ch. xliv. v. 28 ; ch. xlv. v. 1 ; ch. xlviii. v. 14. 


certain point of Charlemagne. Cyrus according to 
the Jews was able to write, " Iahveh, God of 
heaven, has given unto me all the kingdoms of 
the earth,"* without entertaining any idea of be- 
coming a Jew on that account. 

Certainly the Jewish theory of Providence was 
subject to one grave objection, which would have 
ended it if rationalism had been at all exacting at 
that time. Why did Iahveh always use indirect 
methods for protecting his people ? If he be all- 
powerful and intend Israel to be the centre of the 
world, what was the use of these intrigues, to obtain 
through Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar the result 
which it would have been so easy for Him to obtain 
directly, by giving universal sovereignty to his 
people without any circumlocutions ? It is not 
consistent. Iahveh rewards pious Israelites by 
causing them to obtain good situations as stewards, 
chamberlains, and favourite servants to great per- 
sonages ; surely it would have been more logical to 
make His protege himself a great personage. But 
the plans of Iahveh as a Grod are very profound. 
He prefers holding the hearts of kings in His 
hand to reigning himself. Israel shall be in the 
good graces of the powerful,t who shall owe their 

* Ezra, ch. v. 2. 

\ This produced one defect amongst the Jews at certain epochs, 
that vanity shown by subalterns and provincials who are proud to 
be noticed by the great, the fashion of maintaining that the kings 
had thought of them and spoken of them with consideration (falso 


authority to the degree of benevolence they show 
him. Ostensibly to govern the world is an arduous 
task. It is better to profit, at the time of their 
accession to power, by the favour of those who 
inherit this formidable labour. 

The Jewish prophets, pursuing their sole idea that 
the revolutions of empires have but one aim, the 
accomplishment of the will of Iahveh towards Israel, 
are in a very real sense the founders of the philo- 
sophy of history, that is to say, of the attempt to 
subdue all events to a providential design. It is 
not one of the least singular traits of the Jewish 
people that they have imposed the chimeras of their 
own patriotism upon the whole world. Instead of 
relating Israel predicts, that is, systemizes.* This 
is why it has no historians, it has prophets. The 
invasion of the Scythians, for instance, is not any- 
where mentioned. The episode of Gog in Ezekiel 
is a picture of it, transformed into a symbol for the 
future. f In this curious state of mind everything 

edicts, false titles, false letters in Esdras, Nehemiah, Esther, Macca- 
baeus, Alexandrines, and Josephus). This is what they call the "glory 
of Israel," which has often caused the Israelites to render evil 
service to the States by begging for the favour of the strong 
Having no political life of their own they have occasionally troubled 
the political life of others. 

* The impossibility of clearly distinguishing by the tense of the 
verb, the present, the past, and the future, has greatly contributed 
to this peculiarity of the Hebrew genius. 

I It is thus that all the Old Testament will some day become 
the figure of that which is realised by the New. 
VOL. III. 2 c 


becomes a type and a general formula. The event 
that happened counts for almost nothing. 

In three centuries and a half, the book of Daniel 
will give a complete statement of the Jewish system, 
a system which must not provoke too many smiles, 
since the philosophy of Bossuet's history, which so 
many persons still take seriously, is only a reproduc- 
tion of it. The visions of the prophets since the most 
ancient times are, in their way, humanitarian and 
highly expressive myths. The whole book of 
Ezekiel is an historical enigma, a darkness full 
of bright flashes. The disciple of Jeremiah who 
interpolated his master's work * also looked far 
ahead when he proclaimed that the nations weary 
themselves for vanity and construct all sorts of 
beautiful things for the fire. Above nationalities, 
there is, in fact, an eternal ideal. Socialism, 
according to the Israelite and Christian dream, will 
probably one day kill the patriots, and make a 
reality of the words read in the service for the 
dead : Judicare seculuwî per ignem. 

If the prospect of the capture of Babylon so 
highly excited the imagination of Israel, the effect 
produced was far worse when the event was accom- 
plished, and the accession of Cyrus to universal 
rule had opened the way for the boldest hopes. 
Convinced that the world moved for his benefit 
only, the Israelite regarded these great upheavals 
as some of Iahveh's manoeuvres to attain His ends, 

* Jeremiah, ch. 1. and li. See above p. 374, and following. 


The rod winch lie had used for the chastisement 
of Israel was broken. Cyrus succeeded Nebu- 
chadnezzar as the executioner of the divine will. 
It is pretended that he confessed and gave thanks 
to Iahveh for his power. This led to the idea 
that Cyrus wished to rebuild the temple of the 
God to whom he owed everything, and we shall 
soon see this style of imagination developing 
itself.* It was accepted that Cyrus at least 
sometimes invoked the name of the true Grod.f 
Report never made him a convert to Iahveism ; 
but it credited him with a full acknowledgment 
of the superiority of Iahveh and a clear conscious- 
ness of the mission that he was accomplishing. 

In fact, the dynasty of the AchsemenidaB was 
the rule which the Jews found most favourable 
to their nation throughout their long history. 
Inclined as they were to complain, they never 
murmured against the Persian empire. Under 
such a rule everything fostered the work of the 
Jewish pietists. They were free in their own 
way. On condition of complying with some forms 
of outward respect, which badly concealed a great 
deal of contempt, they found themselves protected 
against their neighbours, always ill-disposed 
towards them, and sheltered from the great revo- 
lutions of the world, upon which they could, as 
usual, speculate indefinitively. 

* See below p. 518. 

\ Isaiah, ch. xli. v. 25, attenuated by Isaiah, ch. xlv. v. 4, 5. 

2 c2 


The Achaemenidian empire certainly realised 
during its early years a fairly perfect political con- 
dition. It was in some respects analogous to the G er- 
manic empire of the middle ages, quickly Latinised 
and transformed by the Court of Rome or rather 
to the Ottoman empire in the time of Mahomet II. 
Corruption followed afterwards, when Babylon 
conquered her conqueror, and imposed upon the 
Achasmenidian empire, as later on she imposed upon 
the Sassenides and the Kaliphs, her civilization, 
her low morality, profound corruption, and effemi- 
nacy. A strong central organization left room for 
local variations^ either under the form of small 
kingdoms, as in the cities of Phoenicia, or under 
the form of independent religions. This was 
exactly fulfilling Ezekiel's dream for his Israel, 
restored in pure theocracy. This theocracy, which 
would have killed any kingdom or republic, was 
perfectly satisfied with a situation which relieved 
it from all political anxiety and left it free to 
realise its Utopia. The nasi could attend to pre- 
siding in state at the festivals surrounded by an 
army of rich priests. It is thus, in our days, that 
the Greek community of Smyrna, freed by the 
Turkish suzerainty from all the political agitation 
which consumes independent Greece, is more at 
liberty to follow out its course of internal develop- 
ment than the kingdom of the Hellenes. Under 
the Achsemenidian protectorate Israel no longer 
created (the measure of its creative genius was 


exhausted), but it developed with admirable free- 
dom. Bsdras and Nehemiah would have been 
impossible with a king of Jerusalem. No one 
can dispose of a society to rearrange it as a 
religious ideal in the way they did, when this 
society contains a living principle of national 
organization, and above all a dynasty. 



Assueedly the Jewish conscience never saw more 
lof til j nor more clearly than at this solemn hour. 
The finest accents of the prophetic genius are dated 
from this decisive year, 536. One of the inspired, 
whose voice we have perhaps already heard in 
the prophetic manifestoes which marked each 
phase of the siege,* burst forth at this moment, 
and in a series of chapters, written all at once, 
probably during the days which succeeded the 
capture of Babylon, soared to the highest level 
to which the mind of Israel ever attained. f 

The usual defect of the theology of Israel was 
particularism. Iahveh shocks us because He is the 
national god of the sons of Jacob. The book of 
Job is the most beautiful Hebrew book, because 
the God of Job is really the absolute God. The 

* See above p. 370. 

"f Isaiab, cb. xl.-lxvi. Tbis writer is often called tbe second 


great anonymous writer of whom we speak, whose 
style often recalls the book of Job and who had 
certainly read it,* also rests upon the heights of 
the most purified Monotheism. t The junction is 
accomplished. Iahveh has completely returned to 
the Elohim of the patriarchs % with the addition 
of a few fine metaphysical formulas. § 

The superiority of the great anonymous writer is 
also seen in his manner of embracing the whole 
human race. It is true that in his eyes the mission 
of Israel is unique, exceptional. But this mission 
is beneficial to the world. Israel is the leaven that 
will leaven the whole world. The establishment of 
the true religion will be the work of Israel. As 
this formula is precisely the same as that reached 
by critical science, we cannot rank the unknown 
man who wrote these pages too highly ; they are 
unquestionably the most beautiful that had yet 
been traced by the hand of man at that remote date. 

We believe that the author of these pages in- 
tentionally placed them at the end of the volume 
of Isaiah, and that he wished them to be attributed 
to that prophet. || Any way they were very promptly 

* See particularly Isaiah, ch. xl. 

f Rare exceptions ; ch. lxiii. 1-6. He attributes to Iahveh the 
thirst for vengeance which he himself feels. 

\ Isaiah, xli. 4. 

§ Isaiah, xliv. 6 ; xlviii. 2 and following. 

I Isaiah, xli. 21-29 ; xlii. 8-9 ; xliii. 9 and following; xliv. 7 ; xlv. 
21; xlvi. 9 and following; xlviii. 3 and following ; these passages 
in which the author wishes that his prophecies should one day be a 


accepted as his.* We have seen the same thing 
happen with regard to Jeremiah. t There is a 
deutero-Jeremiah just as there is a deutero-Isaiah. 
Predictions thus issued acquired an authority which 
no private individual could then attain. Wo man 
could be a prophet at will, extraordinary assurance 
was required for the rôle. Since Jeremiah and 
Ezekiel no one had dared to take up the terrible 
mantle which denoted a public claim to inspiration 
and a docility in the crowd which daily became 
rarer. Our anonymous writer was not therefore 
a qualified prophet ; he was probably as unknown 
to his contemporaries as he is to us. It was the 
anonymous conscience of the nation which revived 
its old inspired writers and made them utter the 
words that the consolation of the times required. 
On the whole, prophecy was ending. Men no 
longer dared to plunge into deep waters ; they 
amplified the ancient books until they arrived 
at purely apocryphal compositions such as 
pseudo - Daniel, pseudo - Baruch, pseudo - Enoch, 

proof of Iahveh's veracity have no sense except in the mouth of a 
celebrated prophet. The solemn exordium, lxi. 1 and following, 
inspires the same reflection. Lastly such passages as xl. 2 ; li. 1(>, 
seem intended to be connected with Isaiah's time. 

* It is remarkable that less than twenty years after, Zechariah, 
vii. 5, 7, 12, quotes a passage of deutero-Isaiah (lviii 5) as 
anterior to the captivity. There is no doubt that Zechariah read 
the book of Isaiah in its complexity just as we have it now. 

f See above, p. 374, and following. 


Isaiah, for the moment, benefited by this over- 
flow of the heart of Israel. Great in his lifetime, 
Isaiah became colossal after his death. The rank 
of the first Hebrew writer, the title of eagle of the 
prophets, have accrued to him through the pages 
he did not write. This was only justice. He had 
written such beautiful things that it seemed that 
all great and noble thoughts, full of the feverish 
dreams of the future, ought to be attributed to him.* 

The voice of the unknown writer accepted for 
that of Isaiah was, in fact, so profound that it 
might easily have been taken for the voice of Iahveh 
issuing from the depth of his sanctuary to notify the 
new watchword to His elect. 

In fact Iahveh will place himself at the 
head of the homeward bound caravan. The 
journey across the desert would be rough 
(the sceptical asked what would become of the 
women and children) ; but Iahveh would himself 
be the shepherd of His people; He would cause 
rivers to flow in the desert ; t and would carry the 
sucking lambs in his bosom. Nature should 
rejoice ; the mountains and hills should break forth 
into singing ; the trees of the field should clap 
their hands .% 

* This retrospectively proves the authenticity of the passages 
by Isaiah that are stamped by Messianism, an authenticity which 
might have been questioned. See vol. ii. pp. 419 and follow- 

saiah, xliii. 19 and following. 

J Isaiah, lv. Compare lvii. 14 ; lxii. 10-12. 


The victory of Cyrus was the work of Iahveh.* 
Leagues were being formed against Cyrus for the 
restoration of the Chaldean empire. These efforts 
would be as much in vain as those of the metal 
workers to repair a broken idol.t Iahveh' s pre- 
ference for the race of Abraham, his friend, whom 
He has chosen to be " His servant " requires the 
ruin of the Chaldean empire. This "worm of 
Jacob" regulates the fate of the world. His 
victory will be the victory of the poor and unhappy. 

One expression frequently used by our author 
first appears at this time; it is that of " Ser- 
vant of Iahveh," taken in a collective sense to 
designate Israel, not profane Israel, a mixture of 
good and evil, in which the word of God often finds 
many obstacles,! but pietist Israel, which alone 
counts, the poor, the ebionim, the anavim, the 
depositaries of the religious future. This con- 
gregation of the holy may be subjected to criticisms, 
to reproaches ; § but God has no consideration but 
for it. It conquered the world by an apostleship 
full of mansuétude. 

A new canticle, the canticle of deliverance, will 
now be heard. || Iahveh will gather the scattered 

* Isaiah, xli. 

■f Isaiah, xli. 6 and following. The psalm Quare fremuerunt 
gentes, may refer to these plots against Cyrus, Iahveh's Anointed 

J Isaiah, xlix. 1 and following. 

§ Isaiah, xlii. 18 and following. 

| Isaiah, xlii. 10 and following; xliii. 1 and following. 


members of his elect from all corners of the 
earth. The Persians, in exchange for the good 
that they have done to Israel, shall possess 
Egypt and Ethiopia. The pagan gods have 
been unable to foresee anything, Israel alone can 
boast of prophecies fulfilled. 

These vague announcements were not enough for 
the author. He even names the man who has been 
chosen to carry out the designs of Iahveh.* 

In consequence of the reparative acts of Cyrus, 
happiness will fall from heaven like dew upon the 
earth, t 

The whole world will become tributary to 
Jerusalem ; the people of Egypt and Ethiopia, the 
tall Sabeans will go to Jerusalem, saying, " Surely 
God is in thee ; and there is none else, there is no 

God loves life and He wishes the earth to be 
peopled. { Even idolaters may be saved from the 
impending catastrophes if they will join them- 
selves to Israel and will acknowledge that the 
prophecies of Israel only have been fulfilled. The 
whole world is invited to recognise the divinity of 

* Isaiah, xliv. 28; xlv. 1, and following. This is quite opposed 
to the usual custom of the prophets, and one questions whether 
it is not produced by some illusion of the copyist or some 
marginal note introduced into the text. This is quite possible for 
the passage xlv. 1 ; but in the passage xliv. 28 he appears to have 
really the text as the author wrote it. Compare Isaiah, xlv. 3, 4. 

| Isaiah, xlv. 8 and following. 

\ Isaiah, xlv. 20 and following. 


Iahveh. Bel and Nebo * are already fallen, their 
images are carried away in pieces, upon beasts of 
burden. Zion chants a hymn of deliverance. t 

There were doubters and questioners { who did 
not believe the word of Iahveh, and who said of 
every prophecy, " We know it already." They 
insisted upon the impossibility of crossing the 
desert, and said with feigned politeness and rather 
keen irony, " Let Iahveh be glorified, that we 
may see your joy." § A few even dared to say 
that their false gods had revealed equally fine 
things. The new Isaiah energetically maintains 
that Iahveh alone emits genuine oracles. The 
prophecies uttered in the past, and now fulfilled, 
were a guarantee that those of the present would 
also be accomplished. God, who in ancient times 
had led Israel across the wilderness, would know 
how to guide the people through it once more, 
without allowing them to suffer from thirst. The 
" Servant of God" is hated now.|| He endures 
the most unworthy treatment with patience, offer- 
ing his cheek to receive blows and insults and to be 
spat upon ; but he will be avenged. Jerusalem 
will gather in her bosom a new generation, born in 
exile, which she does not know. Every nation will 

* Isaiah, xlvi. 

f Isaiah, lii. 1 and following. 

% Isaiah, xlviii. Compare xly. 9 and following. 

§ Isaiah, lxvi. 5. 

jj Isaiah, ch. xlix. and 1. 


bring back these last scions of Israel in its arms, 
upon its shoulders. Kings shall guard them and 
princesses shall nurse them. Potentates shall lick 
the dust from off their feet. 

Exciting himself more and more the author then 
combines, in touches borrowed from the type of 
Jeremiah, colours which might be said to portray 
Jesus in advance.* The servant of God will create 
a law for all nations. He will found a righteousness, 
a salvation, which will last longer than heaven or 
earth. Now he is in prison, but he will not die in 
his dungeon. 

In one of the strangest pages that have ever been 
written, t the Seer then shows us the servant of 
Iahveh under the form of a victim. Jeremiah had 
been dead for forty years, and his figure, daily 
becoming grander, was blended with these halluci- 
nations, and aided to complete the ideal of the Man 
of Sorrows. 

Iahveh adheres to the apotheosis of his great 
servant, who has become the personification of the 

• Isaiah, ch. li. 
f Isaiah, ch. liii. 



A splendid future for Jerusalem, and through Jeru- 
salem for the whole world, is the indispensable 
crown of the prophetic dreams at this time. Israel 
has been a bride whom a jealous husband has justly 
abandoned;* she has lost her children; but a 
reconciliation takes place, thanks to the goodness 
of the husband ; a new family is granted to her, so 
numerous that the old house is no longer large 
enough to contain them. 

The new Jerusalem will be a city of rejoicing ;f 
a city of saints and prophets taught by Iahveh 
himself. J Nothing in it will recall war nor the 
implements of force. Henceforth Iahveh will be 
the sole manufacturer of weapons, § there will be no 
more wars without His permission. Thus peaceful 

* Isaiah, ch. liv. 

■f Isaiah, ch. lxv. v. 18. 

J Isaiah, ch. liv. v. 13. Compare Jeremiah. 

§ Isaiah, ch. liv. v. 16. 


Israel will be master of the world. He will no 
longer perform material work. 

Our great utopist shows but moderate anxiety 
about the Thora.* He alludes to it only in a 
general way.f Since the prohibition of sacrifices, 
the Israelitish law consists in doing righteousness, 
in observing the Sabbath, and in avoiding pork and 
unclean food.J Adoption into the family of Israel 
is also rendered as easy as possible, far more so 
than in Deuteronomy. § The Gentile, once admitted 
into Israel, is completely naturalised. Eunuchs, 
excluded by the law of Deuteronomy, || will have a 
place in the community. After death, instead of 
children, a cippe (an iad, a sem) will make his name 
live. Those Babylonians who wish to join the 
emigration may do so.^f Strangers will be admitted 
to offer sacrifices to Iahveh upon the condition of 
keeping the Sabbath and of being faithful to the 
covenant. " For mine house shall be called an 
house of prayer for all peoples."** It is remark- 

* Isaiah, ch. lvi. 

j* Isaiah, ch. li. v. 4 and 7. 

J Isaiah, ch. lviii. v. 13-14 ; ch. lxv. and lxvi. 

§ Deuteronomy, ch. xxiii. 
Deuteronomy, ch. xxiii. 2, 

f Notice Isaiah, ch. lvi. v. 8, a solemn oracle. Compare Ezra, 
ch. ii. v. 59-60. 

** Isaiah, ch. lvi. v. 6-8. It can be no question here of the 
nethinim only. The poet's imagination once directed towards the 
heathen becoming servants of Iahveh, returns to the Gibeonites, 
and depicts the proselytised foreigners as servants in a low 
position. Compare the servile mark of the name written upon 


able that amongst the conditions of admission into 
Israel there is no allusion to circumcision. 

The fast in memory of the ruin of the temple was 
already established.* The prophet does not wish 
too much importance attached to it.t 

Bravo, Israel ! We other revolutionists have 
also said that and have been crushed for our faults. 
The servant of Iahveh may be humiliated ; but 
finally he will prevail. 

The great consolation of man, in the presence of 
the incurable evils of society, is to imagine an ideal 
city, from which he excludes every sorrow and 
which he endows with every perfection. Jerusalem 
rebuilt inspires the Seer of Babylon in a marvellous 
description, which, adopted by the Seer of Patmos 
and idealised by Christianity, has been the golden 
dream of poor humanity in its trials, worse, alas ! 
than those of Israel. 

This nation of righteous men will be marvellously 
fertile. $ The least of its seeds will yield a thousand. 
The future Israel is a nation of new-born children 
whom Iahveh will carry in his arms and caress upon 
his knees. On the other hand, the wicked, those 
who have opposed the work of Iahveh, will be 

the hand, Isaiah, ch xliv. v. 5. The approximations of the pro- 
phetic style is an element which must always be taken into 
account. Compare Leviticus, ch. xvii. 8 ; xxii. 18 ; Numbers, ch. 
xv. v. 14. 

* See above p. 364. 

t Ch. lviii. 

% Isaiah, ch. lx. v. 21-22 ; ch. Ixvi, v. 7 and following, v. 12 
and following. 


exterminated. Their bodies shall lie outside the 
city in the valley of Hinnom, a place defamed by 
the burning of children and the execution of 
criminals. There shall the corpses of the rebel- 
lious and unbelievers be seen; they shall never be 
consumed, but always remain like fresh corpses 
which worms eat and flames devour. The con- 
verted heathen who go up to Jerusalem, will go 
outside the city to look at them and will be filled 
with horror.* The new order of things that will 
accompany the reign of God in a renewed Zion will 
be perfection for humanity. Israel will feel that 
he is the cause of the happiness of the world. He 
will chase away evil, and with evil suffering will 
disappear. Universal well-being will be complete ; 
longevity will be the portion of all. 

All humanitarian dreams are contradictory, for 
the imagination turns in a narrow circle, and the 
plans which it traces have, like the lozenge- 
shaped figures of Oriental mosaics, infinite variety 
in their many crossings. The programme of the 
Revolution was liberty, paternity; it carried the 
Empire in its womb. 

The great idealist Germanism of the Herders 
and Groethes was to end in an iron realism, which 
declared that it recognised only action and force. 

* Isaiah, ch. lxvi. v. 15-18, 24. Compare lxv. 13 and follow- 
ing, and Isaiah, ch. xxx. v. 33. This is the first origin of hell. Cf. 
Sirach, ch. vii. v. 17 ; Marc, ch. ix. v. 43 and following ; Judith, ch. 
xvi. v. 17. 

VOL. III. 2 D 


What can be said of modern socialism and of the 
change of face which it would make if it ever 
attained executive power. The great anonymous 
writer of the time of the captivity is certainly one 
of the heroes of human history. He is fascinated 
by justice. His picture of the servant of Iahveh 
displays abnegation carried to martyrdom; and 
with that the utmost happiness he can conceive is 
an agricultural life and longevity. His city of 
gold and precious stones reigns over the whole 
earth and exploits it for its own advantage. To 
enjoy the house one has built, the fruit of the tree 
one has planted, is the goal reached by this humani- 
tarian. The Aryan, who first of all admits that 
the gods are not always just, has none of this 
desire for worldly success. He does not take 
material enjoyment quite so seriously. Pre- 
occupied with his chimera of the life beyond the 
tomb (a chimera with which alone great things are 
accomplished), the Aryan builds his house for 
eternity ; the Semite wishes that it should last as 
long as he does. A house which defies the cen- 
turies, like our feudal constructions or our hotels 
of the seventeenth century, appears to him an 
insult towards God. His thirst for justice involves 
egoism. He does not wish to wait ; to him a glory 
or a benefit which is not felt does not exist. The 
Semite believes too much in God. The Aryan 
believes too much in the eternity of man. Both 
conceptions have been necessary for the foundation 


of civilization. The Semite has given God ; the 
Aryan has given the immortality of the individual. 
Mankind has not yet succeeded in dispensing with 
these two postulates. 

This ideal of material comfort without military 
nobility and of middle-class vainglory not founded 
upon the heroism of the masses, appears very small 
to our sentimental romantic races, brought up like 
Saint Bernard in the confidence of the woods and 
rocks. Whatever we may do we are the adepts of 
a wild chivalry, pursuing dreams and fundament- 
ally reposing upon the belief in immortality. But 
the genius of great races always reasserts itself. 
Let the so-called materialist, the seeming egoist, say 
what he likes. His own life will be one of per- 
petual self-devotion. He has a gift which belongs 
to himself only, that of hope. The Aryan is 
resigned, he hopes very little. The servant of 
Iahveh practises the fine Italian device Ma spero. 
Nothing discourages him. Here is a thinker, two 
thousand five hundred years ago, sufficiently 
reflective to write in a very cultivated idiom, suffi- 
ciently reasonable to put aside all the aberrations 
of polytheism, of divination, of the worship of the 
dead, of the life beyond the tomb,* and who is 
sufficiently blind to all realities, to believe that 
justice can govern the world and that the ideal of 
a perfect state will soon be realised. In this 

* Isaiah, ch. lxv. v. 3-4. 
2 d 2 


respect the second Isaiah much resembles our 
socialists, whose illusions cannot be destroyed. 
After each abortive experiment they recommence 
their work ; the solution is not yet found, but it 
will be. The idea that no solution exists never 
occurs to them, and in this lies their strength. To 
have recognised that human affairs are an ever- 
foiled attempt, without clear purpose or definite re- 
sult, is a great advance in philosophy, but it is an 
abdication of every active career. The future lies 
in the hands of those who are not undeceived. 
Woe to those of whom Saint Paul speaks, " who 
have no hope ! " 

It is through this that Isaiah has been more truly 
the founder of Christianity than any other religious 
hero of ancient Israel. Isaiah had the good luck 
to meet with an anonymous successor who con- 
tinued his work in a manner worthy of him, who 
placed him in some measure upon a level with the 
times, and put into his mouth the words that he 
might have uttered one hundred and fifty years 
after his death. The aspirations of these two 
great souls, so closely associated,* were revived 
by the sibyllists of Alexandria, by Jesus, by the 
evangelists, by the author of the Apocalypse of 
Patmos, by Joachim of Flora, and the votaries of 
the eternal Gospel. They have been the smoke 
of the incense with which humanity has intoxi- 

• Compare Isaiah, ch. xi. authentic, with ch. Ixv. apocryphal. 


cated itself during many centuries. Powerful 
narcotics, consoling mankind by imaginary para- 
dises for the sorrows of reality, will never cease to 
be necessary until humanity attains the state of 
material comfort which renders the dream useless. 
Now, if humanity should ever reach such a state 
of dull beatitude, it would be so quickly corrupted, 
so many abuses would be produced, that it would 
require to rise out of this putrid stagnation a new 
sacrifice of heroes, victims, expiations, of servants 
of Iahveh. This is the eternal circle of all life. 
Let us hope that the final result will be shown in 
some progress. In the department of science this 
is secured. In the department of human morality 
it is more doubtful. 



The ancient prophets had announced that after the 
indemnifications accorded to Israel by its national 
God, this national Deity would become the universal 
God of the whole human race. In the second Isaiah 
this thought is clear, developed, consistent with 
itself. We must not, in alluding to this remote 
epoch, attach to the word conversion the dogmatic 
sense with which it has since been invested. It 
was not unusual to change the protecting God 
when a more powerful one could be found. 

The conversion of the goyim would be the result 
of the fall of Babylon. Those who escape from the 
catastrophe would become missionaries for Iahveh.* 
They would travel in all directions, to Tarshish, to 
Put and Lud, to Tubal and Javan, to the isles afar 
off that have not heard the name of Iahveh ; there 
they should proclaim the glory of Iahveh, and bring 

# Isaiah, ch. lxvi. y. 18 and following. 


back the exiled Israelites, upon horseback, in 
chariots, in litters, and upon mules and dro- 
medaries, to the holy mountain, Jerusalem. 
Henceforth Iahveh will be adored by the whole 
world. The heathen, who witness the favours 
granted by Iahveh to his people, will wish to 
become worshippers of a God who bestows 
such great blessings upon those belonging to 

The whole world will thus try to affiliate itself to 
Israel, will refer to Israel and flatter it. Israelitish 
Kounia will be freely adopted, t just as the Israelites 
in Babylon often assumed Chaldean names. J The 
servant of God shall be a light to the Gentiles, § 
who will bring offerings to Jerusalem in pure vases. 
Iahveh will choose priests and Lévites from amongst 
them. A perpetual festival will be held in the 
temple, lasting from Sabbath to Sabbath, from 
new moon to new moon ; there will be proces- 
sions of believers always coming to fall down and 
worship. God, that is to say Iahveh, loves Israel ; 
but He also loves humanity, and one day humanity 
will not be distinguishable from Israel. Israel will 
comprise the whole universe. Prayer will replace 
sacrifice. Keeping the Sabbath will be almost the 

* Isaiah, ch. lv. v. 5 ; ch. Ix. v. 9. 

f Isaiah, ch. xliv. v. 5. The Semitic Kounia is the name pre- 
ferred by the person designated, for instance, Abou Ali, Abou 
Ibrahim, implying the name of the favourite son. 

J See above, p. 315. § Isaiah, ch. xlix. v. 6. 


sole outward observance of the religion of the 

The first evangelist of univers alism, the mebasser 
of the religion of humanity, is really the anonymous 
prophet of 536. He is the messenger of good 
tidings, whose feet appear upon the mountains, 
like the early dawn. Through him the world 
first heard the grand words, " The heaven is my 
throne, the earth is my footstool, but to this man 
will I look, even to him that is poor and of a 
contrite spirit." * 

All nations shall worship the same God; the 
universe is His temple; a righteous life is the 
only offering He will accept. All the prophets 
since Amos had laboured to purify Iahveh of His 
naturalistic dross and of His national partialities. 
Isaiah particularly uses his loftiest accents in 
favour of universalism.f It is not therefore sur- 
prising that it is under cover of his name that we 
find the proclamation of Iahveh as the supreme 
God of the universe and of humanity enunciated 
with the greatest clearness in the sixth century. $ 
The anonymous writer of 536 is the last culminating 
point of three centuries of the greatest religious 
effort (Christianity excepted) of which history has 
retained the visible trace. With him we have 

* Isaiah, ch. lxvi. v. 1-2. 

t See vol. ii. pp. 406-407, 419-420, 440 and following. 

X Isaiah, ch. xliv. v. 6 ; ch l xvi.v. 1 and following. 


reached the top of the mountain from whence we 
perceive Jesus on the summit of another mountain, 
and between the two lies a very deep valley. 

By the loftiness of his sentiments, the boldness of 
his expressions, the classical eurythmy of his images, 
the numerous fine impulses that he has suggested 
to Christian mysticism, the prophet of 536 occupies 
a special position in Hebrew literature. The 
unction and gentleness of his words* render him 
almost a Christian already. The luminous atmo- 
sphere of his book is the same as that found in the 
Gospel. His Iahveh begins to tire of the curiously 
harsh rôle assigned to him by the ancient prophets; 
he no longer thinks only of destruction, but would 
be sorry to exterminate humanity by too much 

Man has almost reached the conception of God 
the Father. The description of the Man of Sorrows 
has been received for eighteen centuries as the 
picture of Jesus. The second Isaiah is the book 
which has provided Christianity with more materials 
than any other in the Bible. It has passed almost 
unchanged into the preaching and liturgy of the 

With the false ideas of literary criticism so 
generally diffused, one might be surprised that an 
unknown writer should have produced such a 
masterpiece. But the author of the book of Job ia 

* Isaiah, ch. xliv. xlvi. 


also unknown; and so is the compiler of the so-called 
Iahveist version of the Hectateuch. The finest 
works of sincere epochs in which men were not 
tormented by the literary evil are all anonymous. 
The question of personal vainglory and even of 
personal merit was non-existent at those epochs. 
The Gospels are anonymous. No one would ever 
think of saying that Saint Matthew was a man of 
talent. Does any one know who wrote Homer, or 
the Imitation of Jesus Christ ? Francis de Sales 
justly described these books when he said, " Their 
real author is the Holy Spirit.' ' 

The unnamed prophet of 536 is therefore the 
greatest of the prophets, simply because he is 
unnamed. He is the first humanitarian thinker. 
All of us whose religion consists in hoping for a 
future in which humanity will be at last consoled 
for its sufferings hail him as our master. Greece, 
that created so many beautiful things, art, science, 
philosophy, liberty, did not create humanitarianism. 
She disdained the barbarians too much for that. 
The Jews certainly despised the goyim too, but the 
Jewish disdain did not produce such disastrous con- 
sequences as Grecian contempt. It did not prevent 
Christianity; whilst the Greek contumely prevented 
Constantinople from assimilating the barbarians of 
the Slav race and from thoroughly conquering the 
Balkan peninsula and the Bast, a conquest which 
would have enabled her to stifle Islam in the 


The only thing that offends us in the second 
Isaiah is the name of Iahveh. There is no place 
for the name of a particular God in a book so 
entirely universalist. Consistency requires the 
suppression of this curious word from this time 
forth. A God who bears a proper name is a false 
God. He is but one God amongst several others, 
and even when convincing proof is given that he 
only is God and that the others are nothing, the 
fact remains that there has been some rivalry, that 
he has been in competition with others. But to 
renounce Iahveh would have been impossible at that 
date. It would have been the destruction of the 
nation ; Iahveh had done so much for it ! It would 
have been philosophy ; now it is only in our days 
that philosophy has had any direct influence over 
human things. The work of the Israelitish spirit, 
singularly rationalistic in the main, consists in 
identifying Iahveh with the supreme God, El, 
Adonaï, Saddaï, Elohim, to bring Iahveh back to 
Elohim, to unreservedly pronounce the aphorism, 
" Iahveh, he is Elohim," to thus return after 
centuries of wanderings to the divine unity, which 
the old patriarchs of the desert had caught sight 
of in their long hours of idleness.* 

Yet it seems as though henceforth the name Iahveh 
became an incumbrance ; it was speedily replaced by 
the vague word Adonaï, " the Lord." The utterance 

* See vol. i. pp. 71-72, 149 and following, 220 and following; 
vol. ii. 172, 173, 220 and followiug. 


of the name was avoided (which is one way of 
suppressing it), and its vowels were consequently 
lost. Iahveh really disappeared in His victory. 
Hence this singularity that the name of the God who 
has conquered the world and has become the only 
God, is unknown to all but professed Hebrews, and 
even the latter do not know how to pronounce it. 
It was right that the individual should be absorbed 
in the victory of the absolute, and that Israel should 
forget even the name of the national God who had 
been the source of all its errors. 

Henotheist nations, having one particular God, 
but having only one, attain Monotheism with great 
facility ; whilst innately Polytheistic races, such as 
the Aryan, reach it slowly and by many adoptions. 
Iahveh triumphed over Chemos, Melcom, Salm, 
and Baal ; whilst neither Jupiter nor Brahma ever 
quite suppressed their rivals. The phenomena of 
the Duke of France becoming King of France by 
election amongst his peers, first rendering them 
subordinate, then stifling them one after the other, 
did not occur in theology. Neither has the Car- 
lovingian of the middle ages, without any real terri- 
tory, reigning everywhere, yet reigning nowhere, 
any analogous place in religious history. Gengiskan, 
taking twenty years to master a small country 
of ten or twelve leagues, then invading the world 
like a cyclone, is far nearer the analogy of Iahveh's 
victory. Monotheism in humanity originated in 
the protecting God of one small tribe. The worship 


of this protecting deityl ed to wheedlings, to friendly 
relations, filial on the one side, paternal on the 
other, which cannot be inspired by an Absolute 
always identical with himself and impersonal. The 
abstraction is not propagandist. The fashion in 
which a pions Christian addresses God would not 
assume such tender accents if behind the God, in three 
persons, there were not a more tangible God who 
has carried his tribe in his bosom like a nurse, 
has caressed it, and spoken to it as though to a 

• Isaiah, ch. xliy. v. 1 and following. 



"We have seen that the anavim formed but a small 
proportion of the transported. Misfortune may have 
produced piety in many persons who formerly had 
none. Moreover, the pious families must have found 
their number greatly increased in the second 
generation. In spite of all this, the lukewarm 
were still by far the most numerous portion of the 
community. A great many Jews had shamelessly 
abandoned themselves to the idolatrous creed of 
the land * and had nearly forgotten Iahveh. The 
prophet draws many gloomy pictures t of their 
conduct, no doubt exaggerated, as the diatribes of 
the preachers usually are. The worst practices 
of Semitic idolatry, the impure rites celebrated 
under the shadow of the trees, the sacrifices of 
infants in the ravines, the most inept fetichisms 

* Isaiah, ch. lxv. lxvi, 

•f Isaiah, ch. lvi. lvii. lix. lxii. 


appear to have found great favour amongst the 
exiles. The upper classes, especially, are treated 
with great severity by the second Isaiah. Israel 
has bad dogs, careless in their guard over the 
flock ; * bad shepherds, greedy, sleepy, drunken. 
For one moment the prophet despairs, and pro- 
claims the greater happiness of those who die ; 
they enter into peace and see no more evil.f 
Then he fortifies himself in his vocation, which is 
to announce the good news to the anavim, to 
proclaim the year of deliverance, to bind up the 
wounded hearts. { 

But the greatest obstacle to the wishes of the 
enthusiasts is the fact that many of the Israelites 
had resigned themselves to their exile and found 
themselves very comfortable in Babylonia. Thanks 
to their practical dexterity, they were able to find 
a thousand ways of amassing a fortune in a city 
devoted to luxury and pleasure. Feeling little 
sentiment about the religious souvenirs of Zion, 
they were not at all tempted to leave a country 
which would retain all its importance for a long 
time to follow, in order to return to a narrow strip 
of land, condemned, as it is, to remain eternally 
poor, through its confined position between the sea 
and the desert. It even seems that at one time a 
curious idea sprang up amongst them of building 

* Isaiah, ch. lvi. v. 9 and following. 

f Isaiah, ch. lvii. v. 1-2. 

J Isaiah, ch. lxi. 1 and following. 


a temple to Iahveh in Babylon. The indignation of 
the zealots could no longer be restrained. It was 
decided that in such a temple, if it were built, the 
sacrifice of the purest animal would be no better 
than the sacrifice of a pig, and that acts of legiti- 
mate worship offered there would be as infamous 
as an act of idolatry or a human sacrifice.* It is 
often the fanatics, and not always the delicate 
spirits, that are found grasping the right thread of 
the solutions required by the future. 

Perhaps there was more judgment and reason 
in the party opposed to the return than in the 
opinion of the pietists. The chief argument of 
the partisans of the return, to wit, that since the 
cessation of miracles the accomplishment of the 
prophecies was the great signai left much to be 
desired. The prophets were frequently insupport- 
able from their assurance, and through the sub- 
tilities which they used, in order that events should 
never belie their predictions. 

Many enlightened spirits were in reaction against 
the narrow-mindedness of Jeremiah and the 
acrimonious prophets who had only predicted 
calamities, of which several had not, however, 
taken place. The Iahveh of the old school 

* Isaiah, ch. lxvi. 1-3. According to other interpreters, this refers 
to an idea already familiar to the prophets, that the sacrifices, the 
temple itself, are of little value. 

"Ï Isaiah, ch. xli. v. 21 and following, v. 26 ; ch. xliii. v. 9 and 
following ; ch. xliv. v. 7 and following ; ch. xlv. v. 21 ; ch. xlvi. 
v 10 and following ; ch. xlviii. v. 3 and following. 


appeared hard, fatalistic, obstinate. À general de- 
sire existed for a new Iahveh, who would reconsider 
His predictions through respect for the liberty of 
man. The embarrassment which these splenetic 
prophets would feel on the day when men would 
decide to be converted, or it would please God to 
forgive them, was represented in rather a ludicrous 
aspect. A few jesters bet that on that day the 
prophets of evil would be grieved and would 
reproach Iahveh for not carrying out His threats.* 
This is the fundamental idea of the book of Jonah, 
the only book of the Hebraic literature upon which 
one may be led to joke a little. 

The author wished to inculcate the idea that 
there is only one God in the world, Iahveh, God 
the father of all His creatures, who regrets the 
severity of His resolutions, always forgives upon 
repentance, and withdraws His threats when they 
have attained their object, the sinner's conversion. 
He relates that the ancient prophet of Israel, Jonah 
the son of Amittai,f has received a command from 
Iahveh to go and preach to Nineveh. Nineveh is 
therefore capable of being converted, a fact in 
itself singular in the eyes of an ancient Israelite, 
but which an adept of the universalist school 
would admit unquestioningly. Jonah, convinced 
of its impossibility, and caring little about saving 

* Jonah, ch. iv. 

•f See vol. ii. p. 351 and following. 
YOL. in. 2 E 


the heathen, starts for Tarshish. Iahveh makes 
him realise his error, then saves him by the 
burlesque miracle which every one knows, and in 
which there is surely a grain of irony. In any 
case, Iahveh is so absolutely the God of all the 
yforld, that the sailors, convinced of His power, pray 
to Him, thank Him, and make vows to Him. 

Jonah, rendered more docile, then proceeds to 
Nineveh, accomplishes his mission, and announces 
to the JSTinevites that their city will be destroyed 
in forty days. The inhabitants, the king at their 
head, humiliate themselves before Iahveh. Even 
the cattle invoke Iahveh, and share the general 
humiliation by fasting and wearing sackcloth. 
Iahveh relents, seeing that His threats, which were 
only intended to create alarm, have produced their 
due effect. " God repented of the evil, which He said 
He would do unto them, and He did it not." * The 
situation then becomes one of the most ludicrous 
that can be imagined. Jonah gets angry. He re- 
proaches Iahveh, who has thus compromised him 
to win for himself a name for goodness. Iahveh 
by naïve and grandiose arguments makes Jonah 
understand that his personal rôle is to be merciful 
to all creatures. 

This was an answer to the objections of many 
pious Israelites, who were astonished at not seeing 
any fulfilment of the ancient prophecies against 

* Jonah, ch. iii. v. 10. 


the heathen, particularly against Babylon, and 
who were beginning to doubt the veracity of 
these prophecies. The destruction of Babylon 
was not as complete as the fanatics had hoped 
it would be. We shall soon see the pietists com- 
plaining of the indifference of Iahveh and thinking 
that it would be more profitable not to serve a God 
who is so meek towards his enemies.* The author 
of Jonah thinks that an unbeliever, however obsti- 
nate he may have been, will obtain pardon. Jonah 
weeps for the death of a small plant which had 
given him a little shade. " Thou hast had pity 
on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, 
neither madest it grow ; which came up in a night, 
and perished in a night; and should not I have 
pity upon Nineveh, that great city, wherein are 
more than six score thousand persons that cannot 
discern between their right hand and their left 
hand ; and also much cattle ? " f 

There is no doubt that, amongst the survivors 
of ancient prophetism, there was more than one 
Jonah who grieved because Iahveh had employed 
him to threaten and had then forgiven the culprits. 
The prophet is always a little out of temper when 
his oracles are not fulfilled. One of the ridiculous 
points in Jonah is that he is immediately anxious to 

* Malachi, ch. ii. v. 17; ch. iii. v. 13 and following; Zechariah, 
ch. i. v. 12; ch. ii. v. 1-4. 

| It would be hard to allow the unconscious (children and 
animals) to perish with the guilty. 

2 e2 


die about any trifle. If Jeremiah could Lave seen 
the pardon of Babylon he would probably have also 
asked to die. The people began to feel annoyed by 
the Jeremiads which only predicted death, misfor- 
tune, anathema, and after which the condemned 
cities flourished quite as well as before. 

From a literary point of view, the book of Jonah 
is quite unique in the Bible.* It is a caricature, al- 
though its predominant thought is very serious, the 
details are too much exaggerated. It is a visible 
imitation of the ancient legends relating to Elijah 
and Elisha. In modern literature it at times recalls 
La belle Hélène, at times the parables of Krummacher 
or certain imitations of the ancient agadas, in the 
style of Heine and Kalisch. Suitably enough in 
a rough sketch, the narrative is little developed. 
Probably many readers, even in antiquity, have 
smiled at the misadventures of the prophet, at 
his discomfiture and vexation. In doing so, they 
were not far from the intentions of the author. 
The canticle, commenced in the belly of the fish, 
composed of scraps of psalms which have no re- 
ference to the circumstances, the preaching to the 
Ninevites, almost comical in its brevity, the re- 
pentance of Iahveh, taken from the oldest Iahveist 
narratives, the good unknown king who is con- 
verted so easily, the beasts that share the fast, 
Jonah's despair about a gourd, are all touches 

* It was certainly written in Babylonia, not in Palestine. 


which could not have been taken seriously, except 
at those periods when the interpretation of the texts 
was accomplished with colossal naivete.* 

These slightly discordant notes do not prevent 
the current of national opinion from being strongly 
displayed in it. The servant of Iahveh gently 
advises the incredulous to attach themselves to the 
group of saints, who hope and who already possess 
happiness. f The idea became established that 
Iahveh would make a choice, that only the good 
would regain their native land, the others would 
either be exterminated or miserable. It is pro- 
bable that several psalms owe their existence to 
this troubled state of the Israelitish conscience. 
Some of the chapters which charm us most in the 
collection of the tehillim were perhaps the work of 
the same unknown writer who had the honour of 
defining the best, most ingenious, and most durable 
thoughts of Israel. J The possession of the earth 
is represented as the supreme good ; the promises of 
Iahveh are attached to the land ; those who return 
to their country will be the only ones benefited by 

* How was it that such a book was preserved ? In the same 
way that Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, ch. xii. v. 1-6, Zechariah, 
ch. ix. v. 13-18, Proverbs, and so many other passages which are 
at variance with the general design of the sacred book, have come 
down to us. The collection of the ancient writings was made 
with some breadth, and suppressions were very seldom made in 

I Isaiah, ch. 1. v. 10. 

t For instance, Psalms lxix. xcvi. xcvii. xcviii. 


The Lévites appear to have urged the return 
very strongly. Their ranks were increased by a 
rather large number of foreigners, who, admitted 
into the Israelitish family as " servants of Iahveh," 
were soon regarded as sacred slaves.* They were 
called nethinim or oblats ; t many of the poor became 
affiliated to this congregation of humble personages 
in order to obtain a livelihood. This again added 
to the mass of the pious and poor, from amongst 
whom anavism was recruited. The prospect of an 
idle existence, provided for by the altar, pleased 
them better than a laborious life of work in Baby- 
lonia. A religious foundation is not solid until it 
secures idleness to a whole class of men. Islamism 
is principally defended by the wakoufs, and the 
foundations which support the idleness of the 
softas. Save at Utrecht, Jansenism has now ceased 
to exist because there only a prebend is given for 
being a Jansenist. 

* See above, p. 399. In Isâiah, ch. lvi. 3, 6, notice D*1^flj in 
Isaiah, ch. xliv. v. 5, notice the servile mark upon the hands. 

•f This word, of Chaldean form, is not anterior to the end of the 
captivity. Ezra, ch. viii. p. 20, expressly comprises the nethinim 
with the Gibeonite hierodules. 



All the discussions, the hesitations even, which we 
have witnessed, imply that the Jews felt at liberty 
to leave their land of exile and to regain their 
native land. In fact they were free. It was after- 
wards supposed that on the morrow of his victory, 
Cyrus, wishing to do homage to the God who had 
aided him to win it, solemnly published an edict, 
granting liberty to Israel and permission to rebuild 
the temple,* and also commanding the restoration 
to Israel of the sacred vases which Nebuchadnezzar 
had removed to Babylon. This is the first ex- 
ample of the apocryphal edicts, of which the 
Jewish historiographers of later times have shown 
themselves so prodigal. It was thought that the 
nation gained some importance by showing the 
potentates of the day occupying themselves with 

* Ezra, ch. i. v. 1 and following; ch. v. v. 13 and following; 
ch. vi. 3 and following (a very weak portion). The edict is copied 
from Deutero-Isaiah, ch. xliv. 28. 


the protection of Israel as their first care. It is 
probable that Cyrus never thought of the Jews, and 
scarcely ever heard of them. But it is certain 
that the new order of things which Cyrus inau- 
gurated restored Israel to liberty. The prohibition 
upon their return did not require a special edict for 
its removal. In fact the victory of the Medes and 
Persians restored to all the captives their personal 
freedom ; they could go where they pleased. 
Doubtless they, at first, formed themselves into 
isolated bands. The journey through Circesium 
and Riblah would take at least three months.* 
The dangers of travelling must have been very 
great considering the state of the Bast at that 
time. The necessity for large caravans was soon 
understood. Two principal expeditions were 
prepared under the direction of princes belonging 
to the family of David Sheshbazzar a son of 
Jehoiachin,f was chief of the first band, it appears 

* Ezra required four months for the journey. Ezra, ch. vii. v. 9. 

f Ezra, ch. i. and v. M. ( Imbert ÇMuséon, January, 1889, 
p. 64, note) clearly saw that the *)¥3B>B> of the book of Ezra may 
be the *"i¥frOfc?> the son of Jehoachim, in 1. Chronicles, ch. iii. 18. 
Paleography fully confirms this supposition : the same sigle giving 
either &o or 2t?> in the writings of the last centuries before our era 
(see the tables of M. Euting). The AficMrarxpos, of Josephus is 
certainly the same personage ; his name is clearly distinguished in 
the form 1¥iw, which is probably the correct one. Compare 
3 Esdra, ch. ii. pp. 12, 15, variations of the Cod. Alex. The 
identification of Zerubbabel and of Sheshbazzar is quite impossible. 
In the document, where there is a reference to Sheshbazzar, there 
is also a reference to Zerubbabel as though he were a different 
personage (Ezra, ch. v. 2). 


to have reached Jerusalem * first, and, according to 
one tradition, Sheshbazzar received all the credit of 
the restoration of the city and temple. f 

Still the caravan, which decidedly founded the 
new order of things was that of Zerubbabel, the 
son of Salathiel,J and grandson of Jehoiachin, 
aided by Joshua, the son of Jozadak, the chief of 
the Aaronites or Zadokites, the grandson of the 
priest Seraiah,§ whom Nebuchadnezzar had put to 
death. Zerubbabel was recognised by the Persian 
authorities. He bore the Persian titles of peha \\ 
or tirshatha.^ Joshua, the son of Jozadak, was far 
the most capable of the two. From that time it 
was easy to foresee that the priest would finally 
supplant the survivor of a lost dynasty, who would 
have required exceptional ability to enable him to 
derive any advantage from a terribly weakened 

* It is difficult not to see in the two contradictory versions, 
preserved by the last editor of the book of Ezra, a trace of rivalry 
between the two traditions of the priority of the work of res- 

f The six first chapters of Ezra are composed of two documents, 
the one serious, extending from ch. ii. p. 1, to ch. iv. p. 5, then 
from ch. vi. 13 to ch. vi. 22, the other, almost valueless, and full 
of apocryphal correspondences, including ch. i., and afterwards all 
that extends from ch. iv. p. 6 to ch. vi. p. 12. These questions 
will be resumed in our vol. iv. 

J 1 Chronicles, ch. iii. v. 17-19, is surely confused. 

§ 2 Kings, ch. xxv. 18-21. 

|| Haggai, ch. i. v. 1, 14 ; ch. ii. 2, 21. Perhaps this title was 
only given to him later on. 

*H Ezra, ch. ii. v. 63 ; Nehemiah, ch. vii. 65, 70. 


The departure of Zerubbabel probably took place 
in the year 535. The number of the returning 
Jews could not have been very large.* Fifty-three 
years had elapsed since the great transportation 
had been effected. A few of Nebuchadnezzar's 
exiles still lived, and they started with the 
caravan, t 

A list was made and preserved of those who 
returned, but it contained many errors and varia- 
tions. { The priests and the numerous classes of 
the Lévites or sacerdotal serf (nethinim) formed the 
greater portion of it. It was almost a troop of 
priests and Lévites. In it were represented all the 
Chaldean villages § in the neighbourhood of Babylon, 
of which the populations, in obedience to the invi- 
tation of the prophets, || had joined themselves to 
the Israelites. 

" They could not," the census-taker stated, 
" prove their genealogy, nor establish their 
Israelitish origin." ^[ Several families also wished 
to pass as belonging to the sacerdoce, but they 

* The information contained in the book of Ezra (for instance, 
ch. 2, v. 64) is full of exaggerations or disfigured by errors of 
the copyists. 

f Ezra, ch. iii. v. 12. 

J This list was recopied into Nehemiah's memoirs (ch. vii.). It 
is again found with variations in another document, Nehemiah, ch. 
xii. The total (Ezra, ch. ii. v. 64) and the partial numbers do not 

§ See above p. 312, 422. 

|| See above p. 399. 

f Ezra, ch. ii. v. 59-60. 


were unable to produce their title. The Tirshatha* 
forbade their participation in the sacred things, 
until a priest should come, " with TJrim and with 
Thummim."i This would seem to be a jesting 
equivalent for " never," since this ancient rite had 
been abolished for a long time. The train of slaves, 
horses, mules, asses, and camels was considerable. 
Two hundred male and female singers, mentioned 
in addition to the Lévites $ and consequently 
distinct from the sacred singers, seem to have 
accompanied the march. There were neither sheep 
nor horned beasts, which proves that the agri- 
cultural population counted for very little in the 

This time the elimination of the indifferent was- 
complete. All who were not ardent pietists ab- 
solutely convinced of Iahveh's fidelity to his pro- 
mise remained in Babylonia. The troop which 
travelled by the banks of the Euphrates and the 
deserts of Syria was intrinsically a troop of the pure. 
Amongst the refaim Jeremiah and Bzekiel must 
have been satisfied. They had succeeded. Piety 
had increased tenfold in Israel. Through a 
thousand trials, a thousand purifications, numerous 
exiles and infinite selections, the flock required for 
the divine work was set apart. The elimation of 
the dross was complete. Henceforth no political 

• Probably after the reorganization of the ritual, 
"f See vol. i. p. 228, and following. 
J Ezra, ch. ii. v. 64. 


cares will distract Judah from its vocation. Here 
on its way is the band of saints, who will realise 
the ideal dreamed of by two centuries of puritans. 
It was the greatest triumph of faith and the best 
proof of what, since Josiah, had been most power- 
fully constituted in Judaism. Great love alone can 
work these miracles. If the hill of Zion had not 
been passionately loved for one hundred years, it 
could not not have exercised such a strong at- 
traction. Fanatics would not have been seen 
starting with entire crowds to lead them across 
the desert, with the certainty of a thousand pri- 
vations on the road, and the prospect of gloomy 
misery on their arrival. 

Cantate Domino canticum novum* This was the 
inaugural song of the era about to open. 

Poor humanity needs to tell itself that it chants 
a new canticle, when frequently it merely repeats 
the ancient airs. No people ever lived by hope 
so completely as the Jewish nation has done. 
Judaism and Christianity are religions of obstinate 
hope, persistent in spite of all appearances. The 
return from Babylon was hope carried to folly, 
and yet, once more, hope was found to be a 
good counsellor, at least, from the point of view 
of the general interests of the world. We may 
say that in the history of Judaism, this is the 

* Isaiah, ch. xlii. v. 10. The Joachimists, the sects of the 
eternal gospel, lived upon the internal susurrus of this verse, which 
is used to open several of the psalms composed after the, return. 


critical hour, the hour which determined life or 
death. If the return had not taken place, Judah 
would have shared the fate of Israel ; it would have 
blended with the East. Christianity would not 
have existed. The Hebrew Scriptures would have 
been lost. Nothing would be known of these 
strange histories, which charm us so greatly, and 
have so often proved our consolation. The small 
troop which crossed the desert therefore carried 
the future with it, and definitely founded the 
religion of humanity. 

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